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JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 


JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

WITH  A  NOTE  ON  CONFUCIUS         41  £ 

TRANSLATED   FROM    THE    FRENCH   OF 
PAUL-LOUIS   GOUGHOUD  *         * 

BY    FRANCES    RUMSEY,      WITH 
A  PREFACE   BY  ANATOLE    FRANCE 


LONDON:  JOHN  LANE,  THE  BODLEY  HEAD,  W. 
NEW  YORK:  JOHN  LANE  COMPANY     MCMXXI 


Printed  in  Grt»t  Britain  by  R.  Clay  ff  Sont,  Ltd.,  London  and  Sunday. 


TO 
THE   EXQUISITE   MASTER 

ANATOLE    FRANCE 

P.-L.  C. 


2218701 


PREFACE 


HE  French  author  whom  I  have 
the  honour  to  present  to  this  English 
public — considered  as  it  is  by  H. 
Taine  to  be  the  most  serious,  the 
most  reserved  and  the  most  attentive 
in  the  world — is  worthy,  I  am  cer- 
tain, to  occupy  the  leisure  of  so 
estimable  a  collective  sensibility.  M.  Paul-Louis 
Couchoud,  former  scholar  of  the  Ecole  Normale, 
professor  of  philosophy  and  doctor  of  medicine, 
published  in  1902,  while  still  very  young,  a  book 
which  already  disclosed  the  centre  of  attraction 
of  a  mind  ceaselessly  stirred  by  an  ardent  curiosity, 
but  which  revolves  about  a  central  point  in  that 
it  is  harmonious  and  fundamentally  informed.  This 
book  is  a  study  on  Spinoza  (published  by  Alcan)  con- 
ceived in  an  original  manner.  In  his  belief  that 
the  doctrine  of  a  philosopher  is  an  historic  event, 
the  author  has  attached  the  work  of  the  excom- 
municated Jew  of  Amsterdam  to  those  exterior 
circumstances  which  can  explain  it ;  he  acquaints 
us  with  the  surroundings  in  which  Spinoza  lived 
and  unfolds  an  animated  and  inspired  series  of 
pictures.  Thus  the  vocation  of  M.  Couchoud  was 
manifest  at  an  early  hour.  He  has  since  made 
important  studies  in  psychiatry,  he  has  conducted 

vii 


viii  PREFACE 

laboratory  researches  and  has  even  isolated  a  new 
germ.  But  his  chief  desire  is  to  place  his  acquisi- 
tion at  the  service  of  the  modern  Clio  and  his 
interest  is  to  meditate  on  the  history  of  the  moral 
ideas  which  constitute  the  common  base  of  each 
human  generation. 

It  is  thus  that  he  has  been  led  to  the  study  of 
the  origin  of  Christianity.  Having  reached  the 
splendid  meridian  of  the  road  of  life,  he  is  con- 
secrating the  years  of  his  rich  maturity  to  the  com- 
position of  a  book  which  will  present  under  a  new 
aspect  the  obscure  beginnings  of  a  religion  that  has 
conquered  a  vast  portion  of  the  world.  As  much 
as  it  has  been  given  to  me  to  know  of  this  work  in 
process  of  formation  inspires  a  vivid  interest  and 
that  enthusiasm  which  emanates  from  the  presenti- 
ment of  a  great  accomplishment  :  Nescio  quid  majus 
nascitur  ...  I  shall  not  finish  the  phrase  :  it  would 
be  a  lapse  of  taste  to  assume  the  oracular  tone. 
But  it  is  none  the  less  true  that  attentive  minds,  in 
Europe  and  in  America,  see  this  exegesis,  after  three 
centuries  of  effort,  touch  on  the  verge  of  those 
results  least  awaited  by  the  ignorant  multitude. 
How  magnificent  and  how  worthy  of  praise  are  those 
men  who,  with  infinite  labour,  surmounting  almost 
insurmountable  obstacles,  and  surrounded  by  the 
indifference  or  the  hostility  of  the  mass,  ceaselessly 
seek  the  truths  which  are  essentially  necessary  to 
liberty  of  mind  and  to  tranquillity  of  heart. 


But  I  have  not  characterized  Dr.  Couchoud  until 
I  have  defined  his  familiar  spirit,  which  whispers 
perpetually  in  his  ear  and  leads  him  at  its  will. 


PREFACE  ix 

This  spirit  is  the  same  which  goaded  the  old  Hero- 
dotus to  wander  throughout  the  known  world  of 
the  Greeks,  to  visit  the  barbarians  and  to  study  their 
customs,  and  which  furnished  the  matter  of  his 
tales ;  it  is  the  spirit  which  haunts  the  curious  and 
sincere  soul  whose  jealous  care  is  to  paint  from 
nature — the  spirit  of  travel ;  that  spirit  which 
led  Marco-Polo  to  the  Great  Mogul,  at  the  price 
of  cruel  fatigues  and  numberless  dangers.  To-day 
one  is  a  Marco-Polo  without  difficulty.  Favoured 
by  the  genius  of  his  time,  Dr.  Couchoud  has  since 
the  days  of  his  early  youth  circled  the  world.  The 
book  which  I  am  here  presenting,  Japanese  Impres- 
sions, owes  much  to  this  familiar  spirit  in  him. 
The  title,  if  it  be  not  exact  as  a  definition,  at  least 
promises  us  a  charming  voyage,  and  it  does  not 
disappoint  us.  The  volume  is  actually  composed 
of  five  studies,  three  of  these  consecrated  to  Japan, 
where  the  author  lived,  and  one  to  China  which  he 
visited. 

How  gradual,  after  all,  has  been  our  advance 
in  the  knowledge  of  the  planet  we  inhabit,  one  of 
the  smallest  of  its  system,  which  is  itself  not  one  of 
the  greatest  of  the  heavenly  systems.  Even  yester- 
day, for  the  European  consciousness,  the  Far  East 
was  scarcely  included  in  the  philosophy  of  history. 
It  is  giVen  no  place  in  the  Discours  sur  Vhistoire 
universelle  of  Bossuet.  Voltaire's  genius  divined 
China ;  but  he  did  not  understand  it,  and  in  the 
eighteenth  century  it  was  to  us  a  still  inaccessible 
country.  Ernest  Renan,  whose  mind  was  so  wide 
and  so  curious,  concerned  himself  little  with  it. 
In  my  youth  no  one  revealed  to  me  the  grandeur 
and  the  beauty  of  the  antique  Oriental  civilizations. 
China  was  scarcely  known  to  us  save  by  its  porcelains, 


i  PREFACE 

of  whose  age  we  were  ignorant,  and  Japan  by  its 
prints  which  we  admired  without  discernment. 
The  European  generation  to  which  M.  Paul-Louis 
Couchoud  belongs  has  been  the  first  to  investigate, 
to  study  and  to  consider  at  leisure  an  opened  China 
and  a  transformed  Japan ;  a  Japan  which  was 
victor  of  Russia  and  rival  of  the  United  States, 
and  which  now  enters  the  concert  of  peoples  and 
makes  itself  redoubtable  by  its  fleet,  its  army  and 
fts  diplomacy. 

M.  Couchoud,  from  the  moment  he  saw  Japan, 
loved  it ;  not  only  for  its  cleverness,  and  its  astound- 
ing promptitude  in  borrowing  from  Europeans 
weapons  with  which  to  combat  them,  but  for  its 
fine  love  of  beauty,  its  courtesy,  its  exquisite  art 
of  living  and  for  a  sentiment  for  nature  of  an 
unequalled  penetration.  Were  it  not  that  his 
curiosity  is  universal  and  that  he  is  possessed  by  a 
need  to  see  and  comprehend  everything,  he  would, 
like  Lafcadio  Hearn,  have  adopted  a  Japanese  life 
and  passed  the  remainder  of  his  days  in  a  joint 
appreciation,  with  this  people  so  dedicated  to  the 
love  of  landscape,  of  the  festivals  of  the  first  snow 
and  the  bursting  of  the  cherry  trees  into  flower. 

3 

His  book  begins  with  an  article  entitled  "  The 
Japanese  Quality,"  treating  of  the  prevalence  of 
the  love  of  Nature  in  a  country  where  every  one 
is  a  poet,  a  draughtsman  or  a  musician.  In  Japan 
one  paints  and  writes  with  the  same  brush,  as  M. 
Couchoud  tells  us,  and  poetry  is  not  the  exclusive 
property  of  the  erudite.  Art  is  universal.  The 
woodcutter's  wife  crowns  the  little  bundle  which 


PREFACE  xi 

she  carries  on  her  head  with  a  few  red  leaves.  It 
is  the  country  of  design.  With  a  single  stroke  the 
Japanese  can  perpetuate  the  attitude  of  an  animal. 
What  Pisanello  alone  created  in  Italy  has  constantly, 
and  during  centuries,  been  created  in  Japan.  Our 
author  attributes  this  aptitude  to  depict  both 
domestic  and  wild  animals  to  that  sympathy  for 
every  living  creature  which  is  natural  to  Asiatic 
peoples.  The  Japanese  believe  themselves  to  be 
of  the  same  essence  as  beasts.  It  lends  them  an 
amiable  and  charming  quality,  that  they  have  not 
broken  the  bond  which  binds  man  to  animate  nature 
— which  is  the  whole  of  nature ;  they  remain  in  a 
communion  with  universal  life,  with  animals  and 
with  plants,  and  they  have  not  taken  refuge,  with 
an  arrogant  ignorance,  in  the  empty  spaces  of 
metaphysics. 


After  these  pages,  written  with  profound  feeling 
and  with  enchantment  in  their  style,  follows  a 
section  on  the  Japanese  Muse,  consecrated  in  par- 
ticular to  the  haikaij  a  poem  composed  in  a  fixed 
form  of  seventeen  syllables.  It  is  thus  a  fragment  of 
extreme  brevity,  beside  which  the  European  sonnet 
appears  an  epic.  It  naturally  becomes  imperative 
that  these  seventeen  syllables  should  emanate  from 
a  definite  emotion.  In  Japan  the  poet  speaks  in  a 
universal  language,  the  same  which  a  countryman 
uses  and  understands.  In  its  compactness,  we  are 
told,  the  haikai  lays  a  fine  touch  on  both  the  ear 
and  the  heart.  Basho,  the  Epictetus  and  the 
Marcus  Aurelius  of  Japan,  excelled  in  this  mode 
of  composition  which  bears  for  us  an  analogy  to 
the  Greek  epigram.  But  there  is  more  art  in 


xii  PREFACE 

Meleager  than  in  Basho.  Since  he  is  far  more 
familiar  than  we  with  the  haikai,  M.  Couchoud 
savours  it  more  intimately.  He  cites  an  extensive 
selection  of  these  charming  dwarf-like  morsels  and 
accentuates  for  us  their  salient  quality.  With  his 
natural  persuasiveness  he  was  able  during  the  war 
to  inspire  one  of  his  friends,  Julien  Vocance,  with 
the  idea  of  noting  the  impressions  of  trench  life 
in  this  rhythm  so  essentially  Japanese,  and  M. 
Vocance  has  succeeded  in  expressing,  in  haikai, 
experiences  of  the  finest  sensibility.  (Julien  Vocance, 
Cent  Visions  de  Guerre.} 


The  third  section  of  this  collection  is  "  Japanese 
Patriotism."  It  is  a  transcript  of  the  journal  which 
the  author  kept  in  Tokyo  in  the  month  of  February, 
1904,  on  the  outbreak  of  war  between  Japan  and 
Russia ;  notes  rapidly  flung  on  paper,  of  a  vivid 
interest  to  all  who  lived  in  France  and  in  England 
the  hours  of  August  and  September,  1914,  and  of  the 
widest  significance  for  those  who  consider  in  a 
philosophic  spirit  the  passage  of  human  events. 
These  last  will,  perhaps,  be  struck  by  the  fact  that, 
taken  as  a  whole  and  at  the  same  degree  of  civiliza- 
tion, the  differences  between  men  are  insignificant 
and  that  in  like  conditions  they  act  more  or  less  in 
like  fashion.  We  see  a  people  of  a  yellow  race 
preparing  to  fight  a  powerful  opponent.  To  watch 
them  and  to  hear  them  inspires  a  Frenchman,  and, 
indeed,  an  Englishman  if  his  self-esteem  does  not 
weaken  his  judgment,  with  a  sense  of  their  likeness  to 
himself.  In  the  face  of  the  enemy  they  show  the 
same  patriotism,  the  same  confidence  and  the  same 


PREFACE  xiii 

enthusiasm.  Selecting  in  advance  the  formula 
which  the  Allies  were  afterwards  to  adopt,  Nippon 
declared  that  it  was  fighting  in  defence  of  civilization. 
All  factions  merged  into  one ;  only  the  Socialists 
gave  vent  to  some  protestations  which  were  con- 
temptuously disregarded.  The  merchants  proved 
to  be  extraordinarily  bellicose  and  recognized  that 
the  war  had  business  advantages  for  them ;  the 
government  suspended  parliamentary  guaranties 
and  established  a  censorship  of  books  and  news- 
papers ;  the  bonzes  collected  to  present  the  soldiers 
with  protective  charms  precisely  as,  ten  years  later, 
the  French  priests  distributed  in  the  trenches  the 
medals  of  the  Immaculate  Conception.  War  bonds 
were  issued  and  the  heavy  subscriptions  to  them, 
from  patriotic  motives,  made  a  handsome  aggregate  ; 
private  individuals  poured  their  gold  into  the  coffers 
of  the  state  ;  and  those  booths  at  the  fairs  where  the 
loafers  of  Tokyo  came  to  shoot  Russians  for  a  penny 
recall  to  one,  vividly  enough,  the  flaring  stage  of  the 
Empire  Music  Hall  where  Londoners  applauded 
a  clown  buffeting  with  his  fists  an  effigy  of  President 
Kruger. 

If  one  wishes  to  cite  particularities  of  difference, 
one  could  perhaps  note  that  the  Japanese  gave  his 
riches  to  the  state  with  a  liberality  unknown  to 
Europeans.  In  the  diverse  agitations  of  the  time 
there  was  exemplified  that  Asiatic  disdain  of  death 
which  is  without  a  parallel  under  our  skies.  One 
is  no  less  struck  by  the  chivalrous  spirit  inherited 
from  the  old  Samurai,  notably  manifest  when  the 
Russian  ambassador  quitted  Tokyo  overwhelmed 
with  honours  and  with  gifts,  and  which  frequently 
expressed  itself  in  courtesies  of  language  in  regard 
to  the  enemy.  But  it  must  be  considered  that  the 


xiv  PREFACE 

Japanese  had  not  had  to  bear  the  strain  of  long  wars 
with  Russia,  with  their  consequent  injuries ;  that 
since  the  outbreak  of  these  hostilities  the  constant 
victory  of  their  arms  made  generosity  facile ;  and 
that  in  any  case  their  tone  essentially  changed  when 
they  learned  that  the  Russians  were  sinking  merchant 
ships  and  indulging  in  acts  of  piracy.  From  that 
moment  they  were  treated  as  barbarians,  Goths 
and  Vandals. 

It  is  unprofitable  to  persist  too  closely  in  these 
parallels  between  peoples  who  never  act  in  circum- 
stances which  are  completely  identical.  None 
the  less  war  lends  itself  more  than  peace  to  such 
comparisons,  since  it  discovers  the  primitive  impulses 
of  men  and  discloses  masses  united  in  a  common 
action.  Since  we  are  led,  under  the  guidance  of 
an  historian-philosopher,  to  speculate  on  these 
relations  of  humanity  in  time  and  space,  we  must 
necessarily  wonder  whether  mortals,  in  their  sub- 
jection to  necessity,  have  not  resemblances  in  the 
essential,  in  all  epochs  and  throughout  the  world, 
and  despite  the  divergences  produced  by  race, 
by  climate  and  by  all  special  conditions  of  life.  In 
ancient  times  likeness  between  peoples  seems  to 
have  been  the  principal  point  of  consideration. 
It  was  the  effort  of  the  minds  of  the  seventeenth 
and  eighteenth  centuries  to  determine  that  man 
resembled  man,  under  exterior  divergences.  The 
romanticists,  with  Walter  Scott  at  their  head,  and 
looking  to  the  wider  distances,  suddenly  felt  dissem- 
blances to  be  more  fine  than  identities.  Augustin 
Thierry,  to  cite  that  evocator  of  the  past  who,  in 
an  epoch  of  inexactness,  kept  the  measure  of  his 
thought  equable  and  his  tone  just,  is  visibly  devoted 
to  distinctive  particularities  and  forces  local  colour 


PREFACE  xv 

in  his  pictures.  In  one  chapter  of  his  studies  he 
takes  exception  to  his  predecessor,  the  old  Anquetil, 
who  fastens  upon  the  French,  from  Clovis  to  Louis 
XIV,  uniform  traits.  But  shortly  thereafter  Sainte- 
Beuve,  that  profound  student  of  souls,  was  to  esti- 
mate that  the  more  one  studies  history  the  more 
one  discovers  that  men  and  things,  under  variations 
of  form  and  of  costume,  have  always  closely  resembled 
each  other.  (For  a  more  thorough  dissection  of  this 
compare  the  histories  of  Mezeray  and  Rollin  with 
those  of  the  two  Thierry  and  Michelet  :  Guizot 
remains  of  the  old  school :  the  reader  will  be  still 
more  struck,  if  he  places  the  lelemaque  of  Fenelon 
and  the  Sethos  of  the  Abbe  Terrasson  side  by  side 
with  the  Martyrs  of  Chateaubriand  and  the 
Salammbo  of  Flaubert.)  The  fundamental  and  rapid 
progress  of  the  historical  sciences  hastened  the 
romantic  defeat.  But  however  we  recognize  the 
essential  identities  it  is  none  the  less  true,  as  the 
common  language  expresses  it,  that  a  stranger 
remains  strange.  M.  Couchoud  is  particularly 
gifted  to  write  history  in  accordance  with  the 
exigency  of  modern  thought ;  as  a  philosopher  and 
an  artist  he  expresses  with  an  equal  felicity  the 
general  and  the  particular. 


The  fourth  and  final  chapter  of  the  book  trans- 
ports us  from  Japan  to  China,  that  immense  and 
venerable  land  where,  under  the  Sung,  as  M. 
Couchoud  recounts,  were  invented  refinements 
of  sensibility  unknown  to  the  rest  of  the  world. 
This  is  the  relation  of  a  visit,  or  I  should  rather  say 
of  a  pilgrimage,  to  the  tomb  of  Confucius  at  K'iu- 


xvi  PREFACE 

feou.  Our  author  inspires  in  us  his  own  love  for 
this  old  sage  who  spoke  so  little  of  a  celestial  provi- 
dence, who  made  no  pronouncement  upon  what 
was  beyond  the  knowledge  of  man,  who  confined 
his  teaching  to  the  conduct  of  life  and  of  public 
affairs  and  who,  in  advance  of  the  stoics,  professed 
charity  to  human  kind.  M.  Couchoud  foresees 
and  hails  a  day  when  the  best  thought  of  the  world, 
as  a  single  entity,  will  unite  in  a  common  veneration 
of  Confucius  and  of  Socrates ;  and  this  concludes 
a  volume  which,  composed  as  it  is  of  detached 
articles,  forms  in  its  spirit  and  its  doctrine  a  homo- 
geneous whole. 


The  charm  of  M.  Couchoud  lies  in  that  rare 
power  to  evoke  ancient  or  distant  facts  which  is 
the  faculty  of  a  Renan  and  a  Ferrero,  and  which 
touches  history  with  the  interest  of  a  living  spectacle. 
He  is  gifted  with  that  rich  imagination,  as  necessary 
to  the  historian  as  to  the  poet,  and  without  which 
nothing  is  inspired  or  illuminated.  He  has  invention 
in  the  strict  sense  of  the  word,  the  art  of  divining, 
of  disclosing  what  is  hidden.  Yet  this  penetrating 
spirit,  which  pierces  to  the  depths  of  things,  seems 
at  times  to  brush  over  their  surface,  so  light  a  hand 
does  he  lay  on  them.  His  thought  naturally  inclines 
to  benevolence,  not  that  he  constrains  himself  to  an 
excessive  indulgence  to  individuals,  whom  he  rather 
seeks  to  appreciate  with  equity.  His  goodwill 
is  larger  than  this,  and  approaches  that  of  Renan ; 
it  is  to  men  at  large,  and  to  the  obscure  multitude, 
that  it  lends  itself.  His  kindness  radiates  like  a 
living  light  and  dissipates  the  shadows  of  an  extinct 
faith.  He  loves  men  even  with  their  faults  and 


PREFACE  xvii 

follies,  and  seems  at  times  to  excuse  himself  for 
not  participating  in  their  weaknesses. 

There  obviously  results  in  his  case  what  results 
with  most  minds  who  exercise  to  excess  the  faculty 
of  comprehension.  Since  they  recognize  the  reason 
of  what  exists,  they  are  ready  to  accommodate 
themselves  to  it.  They  do  not  easily  combat  even 
what  they  least  approve ;  they  rather  enter  into 
that  popular  thought  most  opposed  to  their  own 
and  register  its  prejudices.  Polemics  horrify  them  ; 
they  wisely  fear  the  loss  of  time  in  mere  dispute. 
If,  however,  the  old  Scandinavians  were  right  to 
believe  in  the  virtue  of  runes,  and  if  a  sacred  word 
traced  on  a  stone  had  the  power  to  change  the  world, 
who  better  than  such  men  could  write  that  word  ? 
But  I  am  forgetting  the  fact  that  they  are  ceaselessly 
writing  it,  unknown  to  themselves,  and  that  it  is  their 
thought  which  is  transforming  societies. 

M.  Couchoud  writes  without  affectation,  with 
no  apparent  effort,  with  a  natural  beauty  and  a 
winning  grace  ;  his  concrete  style  illumines,  colours 
and  vivifies  objects ;  like  that  Venus  whom  the 
gravest  of  the  Latin  poets  invokes,  he  brings  flowers 
to  blossom,  scatters  a  radiance  and  penetrates  one's 
feeling  with  a  fine  flame.  Great  praise  is  also  due 
to  Madame  Frances  Rumsey  for  having  transformed 
into  English  all  that  could  be  conserved  of  so  rich 
a  language. 

ANATOLE  FRANCE. 

January,  1920. 


TRANSLATOR'S    NOTE 


T  may  seem  appropriate  to  note  the 
service  which,  beyond  its  original 
theme,  M.  Couchoud's  delicate  little 
volume  renders  to  such  thought  as  is 
dedicated  to  the  play  of  the  selective 
sense.  We  have  in  it  not  only  a  charm- 
ing glimpse  of  Japan  but,  from  the 
point  of  view  of  the  English  reader,  a  visible  illustra- 
tion of  the  action  of  the  fine  French  thought  dealing 
with  a  subject  completely  alien.  It  has  become 
a  tradition  with  us  that  the  French  mind  does  not 
readily  travel,  in  the  sense  that  travel  is  a  projection 
and  displacement  of  the  imagination ;  even  in 
dealing  with  history  and  with  art,  far  removed  from 
the  immediacy  of  our  day,  it  is  our  impression  that 
the  French  writer  remains  of  his  time  and  of  his 
particular  place ;  and  that  for  long  he  looked  upon 
Asia  as  he  saw  it  in  the  lacquer  of  Louis  XV  furniture 
and  in  the  chinoiserie  of  the  snuff-boxes  at  Versailles. 
We  have  before  us  the  interesting  instance  of  a 
mind  which  has  travelled  in  a  perfectly  defined 
degree  and  with  a  clarity  of  purpose  possible  only 
to  this  race — with  the  purpose  of  recognizing  and 
apprehending  beauty.  M.  Couchoud  is  completely 
logical.  He  makes  no  attempt  to  draw  artificial 
conclusions  from  either  historic  or  artistic  data, 
except  as  they  minister  to  his  central  idea.  He 
does  not  deduce  morals  from  his  delightful  poetic 

xix 


xx  TRANSLATOR'S  NOTE 

themes.  He  applies  himself  to  the  facts  he  sees, 
rather  than  he  derives  from  them  a  forced  con- 
clusion. His  comments  are  notations,  and  not 
an  attempt  at  an  impossible  participation.  This 
integrity  in  the  French  judgment  strikes  long 
echoes  as  it  strikes  against  the  integrity  of  the 
Japanese  character  and  discovers  to  us  much  that, 
in  our  looser  way,  we  have  never  formed  into  defini- 
tion. The  French  penetration  makes  evident  to 
us  such  points  as  that,  though  the  Japanese  have  the 
instinct  to  learn  the  art  and  arts  of  life,  it  yet  so 
slightly  modifies  their  actual  living ;  that  in  spite 
of  their  cult  for  Nature,  they  learn  so  little  from 
her ;  it  defines  the  line  between  the  progressive 
and  the  imitative,  and  it  understands  that  there  is 
no  mere  formality  in  the  Japanese  formalism  but 
that  it  is  a  current  ritual  of  thought  and  action. 
Those  very  divergences  between  France  and  Japan, 
of  which  M.  Couchoud  reminds  us,  have  their 
surprising  analogies  and  correspondences.  Some 
taste  of  France  comes  to  us  when  we  realize  that 
Japanese  art,  which  seems  to  have  all  the  saliency 
of  the  personal,  is  produced  by  the  mind  of  the  race 
rather  than  by  the  individual  mind.  The  sub- 
ordination of  the  individual  himself  to  form  touches 
the  fabric  of  the  French  social  consciousness ;  just 
as  the  Japanese  caligraphic  sense  may  strike  our 
vision  as  French  thought  made  visible,  in  its  fine 
tracery  and  sharp  relativities. 

There  was  no  more  possibility  of  translating  M. 
Couchoud's  text  literally  than  of  explaining  his 
impact  with  the  Japanese  civilization  entirely  by 
either  its  affirmations  or  contradictions.  It  has 
been  necessary  to  feel  for  the  action  of  his  mentality, 
a  mentality  at  once  ascetic,  grave  and  rich,  His 


TRANSLATOR'S   NOTE  xxi 

idea  has  been  literally  preserved  wherever  possible ; 
since  his  letter  is  his  spirit,  it  is  hoped  that  this  has 
been  scrupulously  accomplished.  His  translations 
of  the  haikai  have  been  carried  as  far  as  possible 
word  for  word  into  the  rougher  medium  of  English  ; 
and  it  is  a  sign  of  the  beauty  of  his  process  that, 
even  in  an  Occidental  approximation,  so  much  of 
their  fineness,  their  sensitiveness  and  their  com- 
pactness remains.  What  is  above  all  a  tribute  to 
M.  Couchoud,  and  to  all  of  France  in  him,  is  that  a 
record  of  impressions  of  travel,  which  was  neces- 
sarily fugitive,  should  yet  be  so  vivid  and  so 
distinguished. 


CONTENTS 

PACE 

PREFACE       ........  ^ 

TRANSLATOR'S  NOTE ...... X1X 

INTRODUCTORY  CHAPTER ..... x 

THE  JAPANESE  QUALITY ..... *3 

THE  LYRIC  EPIGRAMS  OF  JAPAN    ....  33 

JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM ...... 73 

CONFUCIUS ........ I29 


XX111 


INTRODUCTORY   CHAPTER 


INTRODUCTORY  CHAPTER 

HE  four  fragments  which  form  this 
notation  were  written  in  Japan  and 
in  China.  In  them  will  be  found 
the  faults,  and  possibly  the  verity,  of 
the  immediacy  of  a  first  impression. 
They  were  the  author's  entry  into 
Asia ;  and  they  are  destined  for 
those  who  have  not  yet  crossed  that  enchanted 
threshold. 

"  The  Japanese  Quality  "  is  an  attempt  such  as  one 
makes  to  concentrate,  for  one's  more  understanding 
friends,  the  salient  elements  of  a  year  of  an  alien 
existence.  If  I  had  to  reconstitute  a  longer  experi- 
ence, I  should  change  some  of  my  details  and  I 
should  add  much,  but  I  should  leave  throughout 
the  same  colour.  There  is  in  Japan  an  essential 
charm  which  the  man  of  taste  will  always  seek  there, 
and  which  he  cannot  find  elsewhere.  One  captures 
it  in  the  sight  of  the  pinnacle  of  a  little  temple 
amongst  the  pines,  in  the  ceremonies  of  the  accept- 
ance of  a  cup  of  tea,  or  in  the  smile  with  which  two 
Japanese  greet  each  other.  Inherent  in  this  charm 
is  a  conception  of  life  and  of  art  whose  perfection 
was  reached  at  Kyoto,  in  the  fifteenth  century,  under 
the  principality  of  the  Ashikaga.  Kyoto  has  the 
immanent  grandeur  of  Athens  and  of  Florence ; 
like  them  it  resumes  an  exquisite  moment  in  human 

3 


4  JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 

history.  The  miracle  of  beauty  which  united  in 
Athens  the  procession  of  the  Panathenea,  the 
sculpture  of  Phidias  and  the  tragedy  of  Sophocles 
brought  into  co-existent  being,  at  Kyoto,  the 
gardens  of  the  moon,  the  painting  of  Sesshu,  the 
No  dances  and  the  rites  of  communion  with  great 
art.  There  is  in  the  East  a  secret  taste  of  life, 
a  penetration  of  nature,  a  fine  effusion  of  pity,  an 
enjoyment  accentuated  by  brevity  and  mystery, 
and  a  flash  of  the  spirit,  which  those  who  have  once 
tasted  know  cannot  exist  in  the  Occident.  The 
art  and  the  moral  life  of  Mediterraneans  is  too 
dependent  on  their  public.  Eloquence,  dialectic 
and  humanism  are  the  marrow  of  their  bones.  It 
is  to  the  senses  of  that  soul  which  has  the  passion 
of  solitude  that  Japan  opens  a  special  world  of 
beauty,  opposed  to,  but  as  fine  in  its  values,  as  that 
which  exists  in  the  Parthenon.  Japan  is  as  eternal 
as  Greece ;  like  Greece  it  is  a  universal  possession. 
As  long  as  men  exist  who  have  the  sensitiveness  to 
respond  to  the  incomparable  art  of  the  Sung  and 
Ashikaga,  and  who  comprehend  the  Hagoromo 
and  Yamamba  dances,  the  spirit  of  antique  Japan 
will  survive  in  its  irreducible  and  incomparable 
essence. 

The  exquisite  fourteenth-century  Japan  carries 
one's  thoughts  back  to  the  twelfth  century  in  China, 
as  Florence  turns  one's  thoughts  to  Athens.  It 
was  China  where,  under  the  Sung  emperors  and 
beside  the  flowery  lakes  of  Hanchou,  there  was 
invented  a  refinement  of  sensibility  unequalled  in 
human  history.  The  thread  runs  still  farther  back, 
to  that  first  creator  of  idealism,  India,  whose  mission- 
aries brought  to  the  industrious  Chinese  and  the 
warlike  Japanese  that  Buddhistic  principle  which, 


INTRODUCTORY  CHAPTER  5 

rough  but  full  of  fire,  was  to  spread  a  unique  spark 
of  animation.  Asia  is  one.  The  same  great  spiritual 
torrents  and  the  same  imperceptible  tremors  of 
sensitiveness  have  passed  through  it  from  end  to  end. 
This  is  the  first  realization  necessary  for  one  who 
knocks  at  any  one  of  its  doors.  But  all  these  waves 
of  feeling  broke  about  Japan,  and  became  part  of 
her  own  vibration.  The  Indian  ardour  and  the 
Indian  delicacy,  the  Chinese  power  of  reason  and 
the  Japanese  force  of  will,  are  all  necessary,  in  their 
highest  intensity,  to  the  production  of  a  Japanese 
work  of  art. 

"  The  Lyric  Epigrams  of  Japan  "  are  in  reality, 
in  the  compression  of  their  seventeen  syllables,  poems 
in  miniature  or  a  prolonged  exclamation,  which 
lose  in  translation  both  their  incisiveness  and  the 
speed  which  makes  their  life.  These  epigrams  are 
the  more  modern  form  of  the  Japanese  lyric  art ; 
the  other  forms  are  the  classic  poems  of  thirty-one 
syllables  and  the  fragmentary  chants  of  the  No 
dances.  These  latter  are  no  less  essentially  Japanese  ; 
but  the  sentiment  for  nature  which  they  exhale 
is  of  Chinese  origin  and  they  are  saturated  with  an 
Indian  ecstasy. 

The  interest  of  the  epigrams  is  that  they  furnish 
us  with  the  perfect  example  of  that  discontinuous 
poetry  towards  which  all  Japanese  poets,  and  possibly 
all  Asiatic  poets,  tend.  Stephane  Mallarme  has 
denounced  the  facile  eloquence  which  has  sub- 
merged our  own  lyrics.  He  wished  that  poetic 
expression  should  deal  only  with  those  things  which 
could  in  no  way  be  treated  in  prose.  Poetry  had 
been  continuously  betrayed,  as  he  put  it  with  a 
smile,  "  since  the  great  Homeric  deviation."  If 


6  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

he  were  reminded  of  what  existed  before  Homer, 
he  qualified  it  by  the  term  orphism.  The  Vedic 
hymns,  the  early  Chinese  poems  and  the  Japanese 
uta  and  haikai  touch  Mallarm^'s  own  orphism.  In 
comparison  with  them  all  our  own  poetic  styles 
are  oratorical.  Mallarme  had  an  intuition  of  this 
development  when  he  wrote  : 

Imiter  le  Chinois  au  coeur  limpide  et  fin 
De  qui  1'extase  pure  est  de  peindre  la  fin, 
Sur  ses  tasses  de  neige  a  la  lune  ravie, 
D'une  bizarre  fleur  qui  parfume  sa  vie 
Transparente,  la  fleur  qu'il  a  sentie  enfant, 
Au  fillgrane  bleu  de  1'ame  se  greffant. 

It  is  above  all  the  discursive  and  the  explanatory 
which  are  extirpated  from  the  Japanese  poem.  Its 
fantastic  flower  is  unique,  as  it  detaches  itself  from 
the  snow.  A  bouquet  is  always  forbidden.  The 
essence  of  the  creation  is  sensation,  lyrically  expressed, 
caught  at  the  instant  when  it  bubbles  from  the 
spring,  and  before  a  movement  of  either  thought 
or  passion  has  placed  and  utilized  it.  Logical 
relation  of  experience  is  left  to  prose ;  the  placing 
of  ideas  in  affective  sequence,  by  means  of  rhythm, 
redundancy  and  cadences,  is  left  to  eloquence. 
The  Japanese  poetry  has  its  consummation  in  pure 
sensation,  which  it  rigorously  refuses  to  sully  with 
qualification  or  explanation.  It  is  therefore  essen- 
tial that  the  subject  should  contain  to  perfection 
this  initial  purity ;  and  in  this  incomparable  use 
of  the  selective  sense  the  poet's  genius  begins  and 
ends. 

Words  must  always  remain  an  obstacle.  The 
composition  of  them  in  sequence  creates  a  chain 
and  introduces  an  elemental  order  which  is  instantly 
artificial.  It  is  for  this  reason  that  Japanese  poetry 


INTRODUCTORY  CHAPTER  7 

has  freed  itself  of  all  forms  but  that  of  seventeen 
syllables ;  and  a  discussion  of  this  special  instance 
of  composition  will  perhaps  interest  those  who  have 
meditated  on  the  essence  of  poetry. 

"  Japanese  Patriotism  "  is  a  digest  of  notes  kept, 
in  Japai,  during  the  first  two  months  of  the  Russo- 
Japanese  war.  They  are  a  cinematographic  view 
of  Japan,  at  a  moment  when  her  destiny  hung  in 
the  grave  uncertainties  of  oscillation.  As  a  French- 
man, my  sympathies  were  more  naturally  in  the 
Russian  canp  ;  but,  little  by  little,  Japan  conquered 
personal  instances  of  dissimilarity,  as  she  afterwards 
conquered  her  enemies. 

Neither  the  war  of  1894  nor  that  of  1914  shook 
the  country  to  its  foundations  or  discovered  its 
essence  like  "hat  of  1904.  It  was  an  exceptional 
hour  for  observation.  A  great  war  puts  a  people 
to  those  supreme  tests  to  which  a  vital  sickness 
puts  the  individual.  Under  its  disintegration  the 
profoundest  farces  of  resistance  come  into  play. 
We  Occidentals  are  now  emerging  from  such  a 
condition,  and  the  reader  may,  perhaps,  be  curious 
to  see  how  ar.  Asiatic  people  has  issued  from  a 
similar  experieice.  I  have  ventured  to  present 
these  notes  as  ai  instantaneous  sketch,  and  without 
retouching  them.  The  penetrative  mind  will  judge 
for  itself  if  this  Japanese  devotion  to  country  can 
become  a  part  of  the  soul,  and  mingle  with  the  deli- 
cate poetry  and  the  calm  wisdom  of  Asia. 

The  Russo-Japanese  war  will  remain  a  vital  date 
in  the  history  of  peoples.  When  it  ended,  in  the 
victory  of  the  Rising  Sun,  the  contact  of  Japan 
with  the  Occident  was  established  on  terms  of 
equality.  By  means  of  her  victory  Japan,  as  the 


8  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

champion  of  Asiatic  civilization,  created  for  herself 
a  place  amongst  the  civilized  nations  of  Europe, 
a  place  which  she  has  since  occupied,  with  che 
fullest  rights,  in  the  late  European  war.  This 
particular  participation,  whose  political  results 
are  in  process  of  formation  under  our  eyes,  is  rich 
with  immense  consequences  for  general  civilisation. 
Across  the  fine  lacquer  bridge  built  by  the  fepanese 
soldier  between  Asia  and  Europe,  all  thi  stored 
treasures  of  humanity  may  be  equally  exchanged. 

"  Confucius "  is  the  relation  of  a  Msit  which 
the  author  made  to  the  philosopher's  tative  land, 
in  company  with  a  young  and  learned  member  of 
the  Ecole  franchise  d'Extreme-Orient,  M.  Aurous- 
seau.  M.  Chavannes,  so  regretted  br  his  many 
friends,  was  kind  enough  to  read  this  account. 

One  owes  to  the  Sage  of  China  an  impression 
of  complete  continuity ;  it  is  through  him  that  one 
discovers  that  beneath  the  robe  of  Chiiese  embroid- 
eries there  is  the  same  reunion  o:  intellectual 
faculties  which  lies  beneath  the  himaticn  of  Aristotle, 
beneath  the  toga  of  Cicero  and  beneath  the  pour- 
point  of  Descartes.  The  power  of  drect  reasoning 
appears  as  one  of  the  most  universal  of  possessions, 
identical  in  its  essence  across  centuries  and  distances. 
From  the  impenetrability  of  China  and  through 
the  mists  of  time,  Confucius  speak  to  us  a  word 
which  we  instantly  comprehend ;  and,  in  a  flash, 
he  has  become  our  contemporary  and  our  compatriot. 

The  dissemination  of  his  doctrine  of  reason, 
however,  remains  an  incomprehensible  prodigy.  It 
brings  us  to  a  vast  and  disturbing  question  :  what 
respective  use  of  reason  has  been  made  by  the  peoples 
of  Europe  and  the  peoples  of  Asia  ?  In  Europe  it 


INTRODUCTORY  CHAPTER  9 

is  apparent  that  reason  has  essentially  been  applied 
in  the  realm  of  knowledge,  and  that  it  has  both 
invented  and  perfected  the  sciences.  In  Asia  it 
has  been  applied  in  the  relation  of  man  to  man 
and  to  the  perfection  of  justice  and  happiness.  It 
is  this  point  which  resumes  the  profound  fascination 
of  Asia.  Life  there  is  simpler  and  softer  than  with 
us  because  it  is  more  reasoned.  "  You,  Greeks,  are 
the  youth  of  the  world,"  said  the  Egyptian  priest 
to  Herodotus.  "  You  are  young,"  is  the  phrase 
of  the  Asiatic  sages  to  our  restless  scientists,  who 
have  weighed  the  stars  but  who  have  found  no 
formula  to  bring  men  closer  to  justice  or  happiness. 
The  Revelations  are  the  empiric  solution  with  which 
we  must  still  content  ourselves.  We  shall  learn 
from  Asia  as  much  as  she  will  learn  from  us ;  with  us 
the  individual  is  more  remarkable,  but  her  busy 
hive  of  existence  is  better  constructed. 

To  confront  these  two  halves  of  humanity  will 
be  the  great  work  of  this  century.  We  are  approach- 
ing an  epoch  which  transcends  our  imaginations. 
At  no  given  period  of  the  past  has  the  human  con- 
sciousness apprehended  the  death  and  the  birth 
of  such  vital  factors.  For  the  first  time,  from  one 
end  of  the  earth  to  the  other,  man  is  aware  of  man  ; 
for  the  first  time  there  is  indicated  some  basis  of  a 
common  life  for  humanity.  Between  the  peoples 
who  invented  the  ideograms  of  Asia  and  those  who 
adopted  the  vocal  roots  of  Europe,  there  was 
formerly  a  terrifying  distance ;  there  is  to-day  a 
nearness  no  less  terrifying.  The  inventions  of  the 
mechanical  world — the  locomotive,  the  steamship, 
the  automobile,  the  telegraph,  the  daily  paper  and 
the  cinematograph — have  automatically  accom- 
plished this.  To-day,  in  any  given  twenty-four 


io  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

hours,  the  same  news  is  known,  at  least  virtually, 
throughout  the  world.  The  mechanical  processes 
have  so  united  humanity  that  they  are  forced  to  an 
identical  process  of  progression. 

What  will  arise  from  this  imposed  conciliation  ? 
Before  long  the  terrestrial  surface  will  appear  as  a 
single  vast  State,  in  the  primary  conditions  of 
disorganization  and  chaos.  It  is  even  probable  that 
the  Richelieu  or  the  Cavour,  who  will  first  indicate 
the  lines  of  order  into  which  this  general  aggregate 
is  to  fall,  is  already  born ;  and  if  this  must  come  to 
pass  with  violence,  it  will  none  the  less  come  to 
pass. 

The  other  perspective  which  calls  us  is  that  of 
the  individual.  The  man  of  to-day  is  born  with  a 
fabulous  heritage  from  distant  and  innumerable 
sources.  He  cannot  deny  his  inheritance,  and  it 
is  his  trust  to  administer  and  utilize  it.  Until  now 
our  thoughts  on  this  matter  have  been  half  com- 
plete ;  we  have  not  seen  our  Europe  in  the  pro- 
portion which  it  bears  to  the  rest  of  human  kind. 
Scarcely  forty  years  ago  Renan  could  write  :  "  Pour 
un  esprit  philosophique  il  n'y  a  vraiment  dans  le 
passe"  de  1'humanite  que  trois  histoires  de  premier 
inte"ret  :  1'histoire  grecque,  1'histoire  d'Israel,  Phis- 
toire  romaine."  He  lived  in  the  same  intellectual 
world  known  to  the  Ancients.  To-day  this  would 
be  impossible.  The  barrier  has  fallen.  We  see 
that  humanity  has  developed  on  two  wide  levels, 
and  that  it  has  flashed  into  the  night  of  history 
two  great  searchlights. 

The  investigations  of  the  future  historian  promise 
an  extraordinary  fruition.  Each  of  our  arts  will 
be  culminated  by  one  of  the  arts  of  our  newly 
discovered  brothers  in  resemblance  or  dissemblance. 


INTRODUCTORY  CHAPTER  11 

The  product  of  our  emotion,  our  minds  and  our 
hands  will  serve  as  matter  for  general  comparison, 
and,  one  by  one,  strange  correspondences  will  be 
discovered.  There  is  not  a  problem,  whether  pro- 
found or  subtle,  posed  and  resolved  on  one  side  of 
the  planet,  which  has  not  repeated  itself,  in  essence, 
on  the  other  side.  Many  of  our  absolute  terms 
are  about  to  become  relative ;  and  we  shall  use  the 
word  universal  with  a  juster  sense  of  its  content. 

In  this  stupendous  exchange,  Japan  will  be  a 
pioneer.  The  last  and  most  vigorous  offspring 
of  Asia,  that  mother  of  peoples,  she  has  constituted 
herself  the  guardian,  the  advocate  and  the  interpreter 
of  her  ancient  ancestress.  Geographically  she  is 
placed  at  the  single  point  of  intersection  between 
Asia  and  Europe.  It  was  essentially  in  Japan  that 
such  men  of  the  newer  culture  could  appear  as 
Lafcadio  Hearn,  Hall  Chamberlain,  Okakura  Kakuzo ; 
men  who  have  in  their  thought  united  Asiatic  to 
Occidental  culture  and  in  whom  there  has  developed 
the  consciousness  of  a  unique  humanity.  If  Europe 
is  to  continue  an  upward  march,  it  will  be  more 
and  more  vitally  European  by  this  extension  of 
consciousness,  and  we  shall  even  see  Buddhistic 
ecstasy  and  Confucian  wisdom  distilled  into  the 
Christian  liturgy.  But  if  Europe  is  to  founder  in 
new  cataclysms,  it  will  save  from  the  wreck  only 
what  is  in  its  present  limited  capacity  to  save ; 
and  the  best  of  our  thoughts  would  survive  as  they 
are  now  repeated,  in  fine  ideograms,  on  silken  scrolls. 
From  the  sacred  hills  of  Kyoto,  even  more  than  from 
those  of  Rome,  the  avenues  of  a  new  world  reach 
to  the  infinite  ;  and  from  their  summits  one  divines, 
as  from  the  prow  of  a  ship,  the  new  horizon. 


THE  JAPANESE   QUALITY 


THE  JAPANESE  QUALITY 


HE  most  remarkable  event  of  the 
years  which  immediately  preceded 
the  European  War  was  the  entrance 
of  Japan  into  the  rank  of  the  great 
powers.  We  give  this  term,  not  to 
those  nations  which  are  the  most 
highly  civilized  but  to  those  which, 
in  event  of  war,  are  most  to  be  feared.  Japan  has 
proved  to  China,  to  Russia  and  to  Germany  that  she 
is  possessed  of  a  redoubtable  strength ;  and,  now 
that  we  recognize  her  power,  we  consent  to  speak 
of  her  otherwise  than  in  the  phrases  of  Loti's  amused 
and  slightly  disdainful  curiosity.  M.  Motono, 
former  Minister  of  Japan  in  Paris,  once  put  it  with 
a  penetration  in  which  there  was  an  element  of 
sadness :  "  As  long  as  we  consecrated  ourselves  to  the 
work  of  an  intensive  civilization,  as  long  as  we  pro- 
duced only  men  of  letters,  men  of  knowledge  and 
artists,  you  treated  us  as  barbarians.  Now  that  we 
have  learned  to  kill,  you  call  us  civilized."  It  will 
be  essential  to  keep  in  mind  the  lesson  inherent  in 
this  observation ;  to  put  on  one  side  the  formidable 
spectacle  of  Japan's  growth  in  armaments,  and  to 
penetrate  to  the  characteristic  traits  of  that  ancient 
and  original  civilization  to  which  she  lays  claim, 


16  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

and  which  she  is  prepared  to  defend,  with  European 
arms,  against  Europe  itself. 

In  the  first  instance  we  must  relegate  to  its  place 
what  is  called,  with  an  obvious  grossness,  the 
Europeanization  of  Japan.  It  is  unnecessary  to 
recall  a  fact  of  which  we  are  fundamentally  aware, 
though  we  at  times  disregard  it — that  Japan  did  not 
await  the  arrival  of  Europeans  in  order  to  become 
civilized.  In  the  seventh  century  of  our  era,  when 
the  Merovingian  kings  were  dragged  by  oxen 
through  the  forests  of  Gaul,  the  flowering  of  the 
arts  in  Japan  was  equal  to  that  in  the  Italy  of  the 
Renaissance  and  the  refinements  of  living  were  those 
of  France  under  Louis  XV.  Since  this  epoch  there 
have  never  existed  in  Japan  the  same  stagnation  and 
inertia  which  overcame  China.  Until  about  the 
year  1830,  no  matter  at  what  given  date  one  com- 
pares Japan  with  France,  the  former  is  almost 
always  relatively  in  advance  of  the  latter.  It  is  the 
most  erroneous  of  impressions  that  Japan  has 
traversed  in  thirty  years  the  ground  which  it  has 
taken  Europe  ten  centuries  to  cover.  What  she 
has  learned  from  Europe,  since  1834,  are  the 
means  of  defence  against  the  fate  of  Java,  the 
Philippines  and  Indo-China.  Outside  of  this  general 
conformity  to  the  methods  of  modern  armaments, 
Japan  owes  Europe  two  main  systems  of  progression  : 
in  the  first  place,  railways,  which,  France  must 
remember,  date  not  from  the  time  of  Charlemagne 
but  from  that  of  Louis-Philippe  ;  and,  in  the  second 
place,  the  parliamentary  system,  which  began  to 
work  on  a  normal  basis  in  the  various  Western  States 
only  about  the  same  time,  and  which  is  to-day  scarcely 
assured  throughout  Europe.  As  to  the  develop- 
ments of  electricity,  these  date,  practically  in  their 


THE  JAPANESE  QUALITY  17 

entirety,  from  1870,  and  the  Japanese  followed  them 
and  benefited  by  them  at  exactly  the  same  time  as 
the  French. 

On  the  arrival  of  the  European  influences,  there- 
fore, Japan  was  less  like  a  barbarian  than  like  a  man 
so  fundamentally  cultured  that  he  is  ready  to  absorb 
whatever  of  value  comes  to  him  from  another  world. 
It  is  sometimes  said  that  Japan  has  assimilated  the 
results  of  science,  but  neither  the  methods  nor  the 
spirit  which  has  produced  them.  This  is  essentially 
erroneous.  In  physics,  in  chemistry,  in  medicine 
and  in  philology  Japanese  scholars  are  the  equals  of 
their  Occidental  brothers.  It  was  a  Japanese 
physician  who  isolated  the  plague  bacillus,  and  it 
has  been  Japanese  physicists,  with  their  fortunate 
opportunities  of  studying  a  volcanic  soil,  who  have 
developed  to  so  great  an  extent  the  science  of 
seismography. 

In  our  effort  to  give  a  further  extension  to  the 
antiquity  of  our  civilization,  we  are  accustomed  to 
prolong  it  by  attaching  it  to  the  civilizations  of  Rome 
and  of  Greece.  In  such  a  postulation  it  is  but  just 
to  add  to  the  Japanese  civilization  the  civilizations 
of  ancient  China  and  ancient  India.  Confucius 
and  Buddha  are  far  anterior  to  Socrates.  Japan  is 
to-day  both  the  inheritor  and  the  knight-errant  of 
all  Asiatic  civilization.  It  was  India  which  created 
that  admirable  Buddhism  which  has  proved  a 
practically  inexhaustible  source  of  art,  of  morality, 
and  of  the  spirit  of  goodness.  But  Buddhism  has 
long  since  disappeared  from  India,  and  to-day  it  is 
vital  and  fecund  only  in  Japan.  Until  the  sixteenth 
century,  China  was  a  constant  creator  of  new  forms 
of  art  and  of  thought.  Sculpture,  painting,  poetry 
and  philosophy  emanated  from  China  and  Japan, 


1 8  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

and  each  manifestation  of  Japanese  progression  in 
these  fields  corresponds  to  a  new  wave  of  the  Chinese 
influence.  But  after  the  invasion  of  the  Manchus 
China  sank  into  torpor,  and  to-day  the  ancient  monu- 
ments of  her  art  are  largely  in  Japanese  museums. 

In  addition  to  the  defence  of  her  national  inherit- 
ance, Japan  is,  therefore,  also  the  guardian  of  the 
Indian  and  Chinese  traditions.  From  the  point  of 
view  of  Mediterranean  culture,  it  is  Japan  which 
synthesizes  the  civilization  of  the  other  half  of 
humanity.  Seen  from  this  angle,  her  victory  in  the 
conflict  with  Russia  was  an  indubitable  necessity ; 
for  in  the  ruins  of  Japan  all  the  concentrated  survival 
of  ancient  Asia  would  have  perished,  and  a  whole 
section  of  humanity  must  have  fallen  to  dust. 

Any  brief  attempt  to  define  some  traits  of  the 
Japanese  mentality  must  necessarily  be  superficial 
and  incomplete.  The  present  study  is  restricted 
to  deal  with  three  points :  the  Japanese  love  of 
nature,  the  place  which  they  assign  to  art,  and  their 
moral  education. 


No  people  have  so  keen  an  emotion  in  the  face 
of  nature  as  the  Japanese.  In  spite  of  a  fairly  severe 
winter  climate,  it  is  with  reluctance  that  they  close 
their  houses  against  what  is  for  them  a  perpetually 
renewed  spectacle  of  beauty.  Throughout  all  the 
change  of  seasons,  the  Japanese  removes  the  finely 
constructed  partitions  of  wood  and  paper  which 
separate  him  from  the  sky,  from  the  flight  of  birds, 
and  from  the  profound  calm  of  his  garden  which 
symbolizes  to  him  the  essential  Japan.  In  every 
room  he  places  the  tiny  tree  which  resumes  in  itself 


THE  JAPANESE  QUALITY  19 

the  spirit  of  forests.  His  cities  are  parks,  and  his 
temples  are  alive  with  flowers  and  with  animals. 

The  national  fete-days  are  the  festivals  of  nature. 
Take  as  an  example  the  day  of  the  fall  of  the  first 
snow ;  the  banks  and  the  shops  close,  and  one  has  the 
impression  that  the  entire  population,  mounted  on 
their  high  clogs,  have  climbed  to  the  hills  to  admire 
the  white  miracle  of  the  winter.  In  February,  when 
the  plum-trees  break  into  blossom  beneath  the  snow, 
the  people  crowd  around  them  in  a  fever  of  admira- 
tion which  has  the  elements  of  a  personal  piety. 
The  old  trees,  which  are  weary  with  bearing,  are 
given  the  support  of  wooden  crutches ;  and  there 
is  a  general  participation  in  an  act  of  thanks  for 
the  vision  of  flowers  and  the  scent  of  perfume  during 
a  still  inclement  season.  There  exists  towards  nature 
a  ritual  in  the  face  of  which  other  duties  are 
suspended.  In  February,  1904,  the  plum-trees 
flowered  a  few  days  after  the  declaration  of  war,  and 
the  event  was  not  less  marked  than  in  other  years. 

In  April,  there  is  a  solemn  celebration  of  the 
flowering  of  the  cherry-trees,  the  most  fragile  of  all 
blossoms.  In  the  chances  of  wind  or  of  rain,  their 
life  endures  but  three  days,  and  for  this  reason  the 
delicate  mist  of  flowers  inspires  the  most  ardent 
enthusiasm.  Along  the  length  of  the  river  at 
Tokyo,  which  is  bordered  with  cherry-trees,  boats 
pass  and  repass  in  a  wake  of  petals.  There  are  people 
who  take  the  two  days  journey  to  Yoshino,  to  view 
a  mountain  covered  with  the  flowers ;  and  others 
travel  farther  still,  into  the  scarcely  accessible  forest, 
to  catch  a  glimpse  of  the  marvellous  shining  of  a 
solitary  cherry-tree  amongst  the  pines.  The  peach- 
trees  bloom  a  little  later.  These  trees,  like  the 
cherry  and  the  plum  trees,  are  not  trained  to  bear 


20  JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 

fruit.  The  Japanese  have  no  use  for  the  grafting 
which  is  an  attempt  to  domesticate,  and  they  love 
the  flowers  for  their  wildness.  In  summer  they  have 
the  same  devotion  for  the  elegant  wistaria  and  the 
frail  peony ;  and  with  the  coming  of  autumn  the 
thousand  coloured  chrysanthemums  are  greeted  in 
every  garden,  and  high  on  the  mountains  the 
devotees  of  nature  watch  the  purpling  of  the  maples. 

Autumn  is  the  season  of  the  most  ardent  of 
celebrations,  that  of  the  moon.  The  hours  of  sleep 
are  changed  to  day-time,  so  that  people  can  be  free 
to  follow  at  night  the  vibrant  variations  of  moon- 
light. A  Japanese  journalist  who  recently  arrived  in 
Paris  made,  as  his  first  comment,  the  observation  that, 
beautiful  as  the  city  was,  the  houses  were  too  high  to 
permit  one  to  see  the  moon ;  and  on  the  nights  of 
full  moon,  he  could  only  betake  himself  to  the  quais, 
astonished  to  be  alone  with  so  much  splendour. 

It  is  not  such  a  sentiment  for  nature  but  rather 
its  extension  to  an  entire  people  which  is  extra- 
ordinary. The  enthusiasm  penetrates  to  country- 
people,  to  coolies,  and  to  the  roughest  labourers. 
A  coolie  was  one  day  dragging  my  rickshaw  through 
a  snowstorm.  The  road  was  rough  and  the  man 
was  plainly  exhausted ;  yet  he  turned  back  to  me, 
not  to  complain,  but  to  draw  my  attention  to  the 
veil  of  snow  crowning  a  tree.  This  is  the  oldest  and 
profoundest  trait  of  the  race.  While  in  French 
literature,  until  the  time  of  Jean-Jacques,  any 
recorded  impression  of  nature  is  exceptional, 
Japanese  poetry,  ever  since  its  farthest  origin,  has 
bloomed  into  landscapes.  The  almost  prehistoric 
inhabitants  noted  the  most  exquisite  examples  of 
these  impressions  in  short  poems  which  were  collected 
in  the  sixth  century  of  our  era. 


THE  JAPANESE  QUALITY  21 

There  are  some  charming  miniature  poems  of  the 
twelfth  and  fifteenth  centuries  which  treat  of  this 
passion,  and  which  are  remarkable  for  their  extreme 
brevity.  They  consist  of  five  short  verses — with  a 
cesura  after  the  third — and  in  Japanese  they  mount 
to  only  thirty-one  syllables.  There  exist  even 
shorter  poems,  of  three  verses.  One  is  constantly 
reminded  of  the  fact  that  the  Japanese  genius  shows 
in  refinement  and  concision. 

Nocturne : 

Midnight. 

On  the  summit  of  Fuji 

The  moon  has  paused  .  .  . 

Only  the  mountain's  smoke 

Can  soil  the  sky. 
Moonrise  : 

With  a  beating  of  wings 

The  wild  geese  tear  apart 

The  little  cloud  .  .  . 

As  they  utter  their  cry, 

The  moon ! 

The  spring  breeze  : 

The  sudden  wind 

Has  flung 

The  tree  flowers  to  the  grass  .  .  . 

I  thought  that  I  saw  leap 

A  waterfall. 

An  old  priest : 

In  spring 

I  recommence  my  love 
Of  this  illusory  world  .  .  . 
In  what  future  star 
Shall  I  find  such  flowers  ? 

The  Willow  : 

At  the  breeze's  breath 
The  willow's  hair 
Trembles  and  sways  .  .  . 
Always  towards  that  same  land 
Where  dies  the  spring 


22  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

The  Japanese  poet  constantly  compares  the  snow 
to  the  drifting  petals  of  the  cherry ;  he  links  it  to 
his  Buddhistic  meditations  more  than  once,  as  in 
the  following : 

When  in  winter  days 

From  the  sinister  skies, 

The  white  blossoms  flutter  and  fall, 

My  heart  knows  that  past  the  clouds 

A  spring  surely  shines. 

The  following  is,  amongst  thousands,  a  final 
example  of  these  brief  poems : 

Night  and  solitude, 

The  noise  of  the  women  who  wash  in  the  stream 

Becomes  fitful  .  .  . 

As  they  toss  the  white  linen 

They  must  be  watching  the  moon  ! 

The  poet  does  not  arrogate  to  himself  alone  the 
privileges  of  the  apprehension  of  beauty.  On  the 
same  plane  with  him  and  with  the  profoundest 
theologian  is  recognized  the  right  of  the  poorest 
women  to  celebrate  the  splendours  of  this  world. 
That  sense  of  nature  which  with  the  Occidental  is  a 
sentiment  essentially  dedicated  to  calm  moments 
of  rare  manifestation  is  to  the  Japanese  a  perpetual 
devotion  before  which  all  else  keeps  silence. 


3 

That  same  passion  of  the  intelligence  which 
relates  the  Japanese  to  nature  exists  also  in  his  senti- 
ment for  art.  With  the  French,  the  artists  form 
an  aristocracy — or,  if  the  term  may  be  risked,  a 
class.  They  are  fundamentally  distinct  from  the 


THE  JAPANESE  QUALITY  23 

bourgeois.  This  division  has  its  derivation  in  the 
rigid  requirements  of  technique.  No  people  know 
better  than  the  French  that,  in  Occidental  develop- 
ment, to  become  a  painter,  a  musician  or  a  poet  is 
not  a  matter  of  improvisation.  In  Japan  a  man 
partakes  naturally  of  the  elements  of  the  poet,  the 
musician  and  the  painter,  and  without  reflective 
thought.  He  paints  and  writes  with  the  same 
pencil,  and  sees  no  distinction  between  the  two 
modes  of  expression.  His  music  is  without  orches- 
tras, and  still  exists  in  the  freedom  of  popular 
invention ;  and  his  poetry,  in  its  intrinsic  simplicity 
and  brevity,  is  essentially  denuded  of  artifice.  The 
countryman  who,  after  the  harvest,  sets  out  on  a 
pilgrimage  across  Japan,  slings  at  his  sash  a  little 
note-book  for  the  reception  of  his  impressions, 
whether  in  the  form  of  a  brief  sketch  or  of  three 
little  verses.  The  art  of  art  is  diffused  throughout 
the  people ;  it  has  saturated  their  country  and 
impregnates  their  life  with  vitality. 

The  claim  has  been  made  that  the  Japanese  art 
has  not  penetrated  to  the  distances  spanned  by  the 
European ;  and  it  is  questionable  whether  it  has 
expressed  and  exemplified  the  profundities  of  the 
human  soul.  But  it  is  undeniable  that  it  has  better 
mastered  the  fulfilment  of  a  social  necessity,  and 
that  it  diffuses  more  freely  and  more  widely  a  general 
sense  of  joy  and  of  beauty. 

The  fundamental  principle  on  which  Japanese 
taste  is  based  would  seem  to  be  a  constant  applica- 
tion of  refinement  and  a  conservation  of  simplicity. 
The  Japanese  have  as  instinctive  a  repugnance  to 
multiplication  as  to  coarseness.  The  arrangement  of 
their  houses  is  the  finest  tribute  to  this  quality.  No 
single  article  of  furniture  is  permanently  placed. 


24  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

The  same  bare  room  becomes  a  dining-room  when 
the  servant  brings  in  a  tiny  lacquer  table,  and  a 
bedroom  when  she  unrolls  the  silken  mattresses. 
Nothing  has  the  rigidity  of  the  stationary.  A  single 
place  is  always  consecrated  to  contain  a  work  of  art, 
or  any  object  of  beauty ;  for  the  delicate  statuette 
is  often  replaced  by  a  flowering  branch,  or  even  by 
a  single  shining  pebble.  These  changes  are  made 
according  to  the  varying  beauties  of  the  season,  the 
fluctuating  light  of  the  different  hours,  to  corre- 
spond with  the  imaginative  mood  of  the  host  or  the 
taste  of  the  guest  whom  he  hopes  to  receive.  But 
the  consecrated  object  radiates  its  influence 
throughout  the  house.  The  poorest  cottage  possesses 
one  beautiful  thing,  and  the  richest  would  never 
put  on  exhibition  more  than  one  at  a  time. 

The  selective  sense  of  the  Japanese  has  divined 
the  charm  of  the  temporary  as  well  as  the  charm 
of  the  unique.  It  is  distasteful  to  their  sensitiveness 
for  the  inanimate  to  permit  a  work  of  beauty  to  fail 
of  its  audience  and  to  become  an  object  of  indiffer- 
ence, before  which  one  passes  without  either  respect 
or  emotion.  Even  in  the  museums,  which  have 
been  established  on  the  Western  plan,  the  paintings 
are  rolled  in  their  cases,  every  five  days,  and  the  eye 
is  refreshed  by  others. 

The  most  definite  social  expression  of  this  cult  of 
art  is  what  is  called  the  "  ceremony  of  tea,"  which  is 
in  reality  an  aesthetic  ritual  whose  rites  have  been 
prescribed  since  the  fifteenth  century.  Five  friends, 
following  the  canonical  number,  meet  in  the  morn- 
ing, in  the  depths  of  an  odorous  garden,  in  a  pavilion 
so  small  that  it  consists  of  only  three  braidings  of 
straw,  and  made  of  thatch  and  of  the  simplest  woods. 
An  antique  painting  of  authoritative  beauty  is 


THE  JAPANESE  QUALITY  25 

suspended  on  one  wall ;  but  the  company  does  not 
turn  to  it  until  the  conversation  has  fallen  into 
established  form,  and  deals  in  the  grave  and  the 
delicate,  Then,  with  a  preliminary  examination  of 
the  case  which  has  contained  it  and  the  mounting 
which  supports  it,  each  guest  approaches  the  work 
of  art ;  and  the  phrases  of  their  appreciation  form 
the  starting-point  for  a  discussion  of  the  arts  which 
stretches  into  the  hours.  The  simple  repast  is 
prepared  by  the  guests  themselves,  in  porcelains 
which  are  always  old  and  exquisite,  and  when  night 
surprises  them  the  five  pilgrims  on  the  road  to  a 
finer  apprehension  feel  that  they  have  made  a  stage 
of  their  journey.  Those  who  practise  this  ceremony 
of  tea — the  chajin — form  an  aristocracy  of  taste 
which  has  interpreted  the  acceptances  and  refusals 
of  artistic  Japan.  Popular  esteem  ranks  a  famous 
chajin  with  a  revered  statesman  or  a  great  general. 
But  every  Japanese  is  essentially  and  eternally  a 
chajin,  and  prides  himself  on  his  appreciation  of  the 
lines  of  a  drawing  or  the  curve  of  a  vase. 

All  the  little  ornaments  which  emanate  from 
Japan  and  which  the  West  puts  to  such  absurd  uses 
— the  lacquer,  the  ivory  boxes,  the  sabre  guards — 
are  in  customary  use  in  their  country  of  origin. 
The  tiny  vase  which  lifts  its  flowery  contours  in  a 
European  Museum  often  comes  from  the  kitchen  of 
a  peasant.  Since  the  diffusion  of  culture  in  ancient 
Greece  there  has  not  been  so  rich  and  dissemin- 
ated a  creation  in  the  domestic  arts. 

The  influence  of  the  Japanese  production  has  been 
felt  throughout  the  world.  In  the  seventeenth 
century  their  lacquer  brought  new  life  to  the  form 
and  design  of  French  furniture.  Those  faiences  of 
Kyoto  which  a  Dutch  ship  carried  to  the  West  gave 


26  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

the  wings  of  inspiration  to  this  art  at  Delft  and, 
later,  to  the  same  at  Copenhagen.  Amongst  painters, 
from  Whistler  to  Degas,  and  amongst  print  makers, 
from  Riviere  to  Toulouse-Lautrec,  those  who  have 
saturated  themselves  in  the  Japanese  sense  of  line 
are  easily  marked.  If  one  speaks  of  the  influence  of 
Europe  in  the  military  development  of  Japan,  it  is 
an  equal  justice  to  recognize  the  Japanese  influence 
in  the  development  of  European  culture.  But  the 
too  facile  success  of  the  too  superficial  Japanese  pro- 
duction has  weakened  our  mature  judgment  of  their 
basic  art.  We  give  its  familiar  and  more  ephemeral 
examples  too  important  a  place,  in  the  fashion  of 
that  historian  of  Greek  art  who  was  so  absorbed  in 
talking  of  the  Tanagra  that  he  forgot  the  Parthenon. 
We  are  only  academically  aware  that  Japan  has 
formed,  produced  and  perpetuated  a  great  school 
of  sculpture  and  a  great  school  of  painting  and  that, 
almost  without  exception,  the  perfected  examples  of 
both  arts  are  still  in  Japan. 

The  school  of  sculpture  of  Nara  and  the  school  of 
the  Kano  landscapes  have  taken  categoric  rank  with 
the  schools  of  Florentine  sculpture  and  of  Dutch 
landscapes ;  but  in  the  future  there  will  be  a  more 
general  consciousness  that  they  are  part  of  the 
artistic  patrimony  of  all  races.  In  spite  of  predic- 
tions to  the  contrary,  no  decadence  in  Japanese  art 
can  be  signalized.  It  seems  to  enclose  the  germ  of 
an  eternal  rebirth,  due  to  the  perpetuity  of  an 
aristocracy  of  taste  and  to  the  extension  of  this  taste 
to  the  public  at  large.  A  police  officer,  whose  salary 
was  perhaps  twelve  hundred  yen  a  year,  has  been 
known  to  pay  a  hundred  yen  for  a  cup  which  passed 
his  criticism  and  pleased  his  fancy.  As  long  as  such 
dissemination  of  good  judgment  exists  amongst  a 


THE  JAPANESE  QUALITY  27 

people,  there  will  arise  artists  worthy  to  satisfy  the 
demands  made  of  them. 


The  link  between  moral  and  religious  life  is  par- 
ticularly strong  in  Japan,  and  the  form  of  one  is 
infused  with  the  vitality  of  the  other.  Japan,  even 
more  strikingly  than  Italy,  is  the  country  of  astonish- 
ing confirmations  and  particularly  in  matters  of 
belief. 

The  curious  anomaly  created  by  the  survival  of 
Shintoism  has  produced  a  situation  which  would  be 
paralleled  only  if  ancient  Celtic  forms  of  faith  had 
kept  pace  with  Christianity  and  if  to-day,  in  addition 
to  the  priest  of  the  popular  theocracy,  there  was 
included  a  Druid  in  his  white  robes,  surrounded 
with  that  same  mystical  potency  which  hangs  about 
the  traditional  cutting  of  the  mistletoe  at  New  Year, 
with  a  golden  sickle ;  above  all  if,  conjointly  with  these 
two  hierarchies  and  acceptable  to  them  both,  there 
existed  a  rationalistic  philosophy.  Shintoism  stands 
in  the  position  which  would  in  that  case  be  occupied 
by  the  Druidic  faith,  the  equivalent  of  Buddhism 
would  be  Christianity,  and  the  rationalistic  thought 
would  be  Confucian  philosophy. 

Shintoism  has  as  its  basic  postulation  the  tenet 
that  Japan  is  the  chosen  country  of  the  gods,  and 
that  the  Japanese,  as  descendants  of  the  goddess 
Amaterasu,  are  by  this  privilege  immune  from  the 
need  of  any  moral  code  other  than  their  own.  There 
exists,  therefore,  very  little  sense  of  that  personal 
responsibility  which  springs  from  the  doctrines  of  a 
more  intensive  morality.  The  consequent  belief  is 
that  the  Japanese  need  only  give  free  rein  to  their 


28  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

innate  impulses,  and  let  speak  in  themselves  the 
generosities  of  nature,  of  honour  and  of  patriotism 
which  are  the  hereditary  instincts  of  so  noble  a  race. 
A  Japanese  believing  himself  a  descendant  of  the 
gods,  and  with  credence  in  the  possibility  that,  at 
his  death,  he  himself  may  become  a  half-deity,  has 
little  use  for  the  restrictive  fears  of  the  usual  man ; 
the  pride  of  his  birth  inspires  all  his  actions  and  is 
sufficient  in  all  circumstances. 

The  Emperor  is  the  nearest  link  with  this  divine 
inheritance.  This  cult  for  the  Emperor  is  more 
fundamental  than  any  attachment  of  the  subject 
to  the  sovereign ;  indeed,  for  many  centuries  the 
Emperor  completely  lacked  political  authority.  It 
may  be  called  the  cult  of  Japan  personified.  When 
the  bulletin  of  a  victory  states  that  the  armies  have 
triumphed,  because  of  the  inherent  virtue  of  the 
sovereign,  the  allusion  is  not  alone  to  the  reigning 
Emperor,  but  to  the  perpetual  and  perpetuated 
Emperor ;  that  is,  to  this  eternally  personified 
expression  of  the  genius  of  the  nation. 

One  is  struck  by  the  fact  that  although  there  is 
scarcely  any  conscious  idea  of  sin  in  the  Japanese 
mentality,  and  no  law  exists  to  deal  with  polygamy, 
adultery  or  divorce,  the  habits  of  the  people  are 
essentially  moral  and  the  family  life  is  constituted 
on  a  basis  of  solidity.  The  supposition  that  Japan 
is  dissolute  is  the  falsest  of  fictions.  The  superficial 
observers  who  leap  to  this  conclusion  have  been  taken 
unaware  by  the  atmosphere  of  joy  and  of  sensitive- 
ness to  beauty  which  reigns  throughout  the  country. 
The  elaborate  courtesy  of  the  men  and  the  fine  smile 
of  the  women  have  surprised  them  into  inaccuracies 
of  judgment,  and  they  have  believed  themselves  to 
be  in  conditions  related  to  those  of  Tahiti.  French 


THE  JAPANESE  QUALITY  29 

travellers  have  been  especially  apt  to  commit  this 
particular  error,  since  with  them  all  literature  of 
travel  carries  a  tradition  of  libertinism.  The  French 
language  has  a  regrettable  tendency  to  give  to  alien 
terms,  as  well  as  to  alien  impressions,  the  implication 
of  a  gallant  meaning.  For  example,  the  ordinary 
Turkish  words  seraglio  and  harem,  the  first  signify- 
ing a  palace  and  the  second  corresponding  to  the 
English  word  home,  have  assumed  in  French  a 
special  sense.  In  the  same  way  the  Japanese  terms 
mousme  and  geisha  have  come  to  represent,  in 
French,  women  constituted  and  trained  for  the 
relation  of  the  sexes,  whose  chastity  is  not  on  the 
defensive.  The  mousme  is  quite  simply  the 
daughter  of  the  household,  the  eldest  sister.  The 
geisha  are  women  who  can  be  compared  only  to 
vivified  objects  of  art,  and  whose  sole  role  is  to  be 
lovely  and  charming.  They  exemplify  the  grace  of 
Japan,  as  the  Japanese  officers  express  the  spirit  of 
the  national  honour.  The  most  beautiful  stuffs  are 
woven  for  their  robes  and  their  sashes,  and  the  finest 
of  jewels  and  of  lacquer  are  for  their  use.  They  are 
actresses  without  a  stage,  who  are  sought  for  their 
beauty  and  their  wit,  their  talent  of  musician- 
poetesses,  and  the  play  of  their  imagination ;  and, 
if  they  have  their  loves  and  their  caprices,  they  are 
far  from  being  venial.  A  Japanese  in  exile  regrets  a 
geisha  as  one  of  the  living  images  of  his  country. 
Something  of  their  origin  as  Shintoist  priestesses 
persists  in  them,  and  they  symbolize  that  delicate  and 
noble  epicureanism  which  is  the  moral  of  Japan. 

The  Buddhism  of  Japan — an  alien  religion — has 
softened  the  intrinsic  egoism  of  this  epicureanism. 
The  metaphysics  of  this  faith  are  profound,  its  morals 
are  ascetic  and  sublime,  and  its  doctrine  is  one  of 


30  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

renunciation  and  of  a  universal  goodness.  Its  posi- 
tive action  is  comparable  to  that  of  Christianity  or 
to  that  of  the  epicureanism  of  antiquity.  But 
Buddhism  has  never  been  a  faith  which  permitted 
persecutions,  and  it  has  allowed  pagan  temples  to 
sleep  in  their  ancient  peace.  It  has  concentrated  its 
force  in  converting  to  its  doctrines  the  most  sensitive, 
the  most  highly-developed  and  the  most  disen- 
chanted minds.  These  it  has  led  to  a  moral  per- 
fection by  the  passion  it  instils  for  artistic  perfection, 
since  art  presupposes  in  the  first  degree  renunciation 
and  concentration  on  one's  inner  development ; 
and,  according  to  the  laws  of  Japanese  Buddhism, 
the  experienced  man  who  comes  to  its  temples  to 
find  peace  must  become  an  artist  before  he  can  be 
a  saint.  The  influence  of  Buddhism  is  waning  to- 
day, but  for  twelve  centuries  it  was  a  school  of 
idealism.  It  formed  great  spirits,  tortured  by  the 
nostalgia  of  the  infinite,  and  on  the  other  hand 
saints  so  tender  and  so  saturated  with  peace  that 
they  are  comparable  to  our  Francis  of  Assisi. 
Scarcely  an  Eastern  art  has  not  emanated  from  it ; 
scarcely  any  activity  of  Eastern  life  has  escaped  its 
transforming  touch.  It  has  penetrated  vast  masses 
of  people  by  the  sense  of  mystery,  by  a  silent  good- 
ness, and  a  belief  in  the  mystic  solidarity  of  souls ;  all 
that  transcends  reason  and  which  the  heart  divines. 
The  virility  of  the  Japanese  nature  has  emanated 
from  Confucianism.  Since  the  gradual  subsidence 
of  the  influences  of  Buddhism,  those  of  Confucianism 
have  made  a  more  and  more  penetrative  progress. 
Confucianism  is  a  philosophy,  and  above  all  a  system- 
atized morality,  whose  principles,  borrowed  from 
the  Chinese  classics,  have  been  adapted  by  the 
Japanese  to  the  particularities  of  their  character. 


THE  JAPANESE  QUALITY  31 

Its  principal  tenet  deals  with  the  principles  of  honour, 
or,  to  speak  more  exactly,  the  morality  of  deport- 
ment. From  their  earliest  school  days,  children  are 
taught  what  is  called  in  Japanese  the  art  of  managing 
the  body,  which  embraces  everything  from  cleanli- 
ness to  self-mastery.  They  learn,  and  they  learn  as 
an  art,  to  control  their  tears,  their  anger  and  their 
fear.  They  are  given  an  heroic  education  which  is 
without  concession  or  attenuation.  The  rarest 
courage  is  presented  to  them  as  a  simple  necessity 
of  propriety.  A  physician  never  hides  from  a 
patient  the  gravity  of  his  condition  :  it  would  be 
an  insult  to  expose  him  to  the  failure  of  a  ceremonious 
propriety  in  the  face  of  death.  At  the  beginning  of 
the  war  with  Russia  I  was  frequently  enabled  to 
observe  the  departure  of  troops  from  small  wayside 
stations.  The  function  never  varied.  The  geisha 
of  the  village,  in  their  loveliest  robes  and  most 
elaborate  head-dresses,  gathered  to  offer  the  soldiers 
a  last  cup  of  tea ;  they  passed  through  the  ranks 
smiling  and  bending  in  salutation.  The  priests 
distributed  their  amulets,  to  the  lightest  sound  of 
laughter,  which  seemed  to  indicate  that  if  these  little 
objects  could  do  no  good  at  least  they  did  not  harm. 
Finally,  with  the  approach  of  the  parents  and  wives, 
came  the  instant  when  the  men  seemed  most  fully 
aware  that  they  were  going  on  their  way  to  a  desired 
death.  In  Japan  people  neither  embrace  nor  shake 
hands ;  their  expression  was  therefore  limited  to 
two  inclinations,  two  long  looks,  and  two  smiles. 
It  was  impossible  to  detect  a  cry  or  a  tear.  One 
divined  that  the  pain  was  none  the  less  penetrative, 
but  that  it  was  a  law  scrupulously  to  repress  it  until 
privacy  was  reached.  It  is  a  Japanese  proverb  that 
the  pillow  alone  shall  know  one's  tears. 


32  JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 

In  a  country  where  the  values  are  so  nicely 
balanced,  people  need  a  tempered  fineness,  a  stoicism 
and  a  steadiness  of  bearing  to  escape  dissolution  of 
character.  This  hard  discipline,  which  is  not  in- 
spired by  nature  but  inculcated  by  education,  gives 
Japan  its  moral  tone,  and  in  the  face  of  danger  what 
is  called  in  Japanese  national  unanimity.  It  is  an 
astonishing  fact  that  among  this  nation  of  epicureans 
there  are  no  anarchists,  no  dilettanti  and  no  idlers. 
Artisan  and  artist  are  equally  faithful  to  their  work 
and,  when  need  arises,  to  their  national  duty.  In 
the  flash  of  an  instant  the  nation  can  become  a 
unanimous  whole  and  one  Japanese  indistinguishable 
from  another. 

At  the  beginning  of  the  war  with  China  the 
Emperor  left  his  palace  and  went  to  live  in  a  cottage, 
to  range  himself  with  the  humblest  of  his  subjects. 
The  gravity  with  which  each  Japanese  lives  his 
personal  life  is  equally  applicable  to  his  part  in  the 
collective  effort,  and  is  a  form  of  his  consecration 
to  deportment.  Here  is  evidenced  the  miracle  of 
Japan  :  an  artistic  sensibility  which  is  so  highly 
refined  united  to  an  immutable  military  discipline ; 
an  island  of  poets  which  is  the  most  unified  nation 
of  to-day. 


THE  LYRIC   EPIGRAMS   OF  JAPAN 


THE  LYRIC  EPIGRAMS  OF  JAPAN 


HAIKAI  is  a  Japanese  poem  in  three 
verses,  or  a  phrase  in  three  short 
members,  the  first  of  five  syllables, 
the  second  of  seven  and  the  third  of 
five  :  seventeen  syllables  in  all.  It 
is  of  the  most  elementary  poetic 
construction ;  indeed,  it  is  a  ques- 
tion whether  one  can  venture  to  define  as  poetry 
a  stanza  of  three  verses,  in  which  there  is  no  regard 
for  rhyme,  for  quantities  or  for  accentuation,  and 
where  even  the  number  of  syllables  admits  some 
licence.  A  haikai  can  be  compared  neither  to  a 
Greek  nor  Latin  distich,  nor  to  a  French  quatrain. 
It  is  neither  a  "  thought,"  nor  a  "  word,"  nor  a 
proverb ;  an  epigram  in  neither  the  modern  sense 
nor  in  the  antique,  which  is  rather  an  inscription. 
It  is  the  simplest  picture,  in  three  movements  of 
the  brush,  a  sketch  which  is  a  brief  touch  or  impres- 
sion. The  abstract  is  entirely  deleted.  Its  syntax 
is  elliptical  to  excess.  With  three  rapid  notations, 
a  landscape  or  the  vision  of  a  scene  is  composed. 
All  the  poetic  effort  is  bent  on  the  choice  of  those 
three  suggestive  sensations  which  must  give  birth 
to  a  train  of  others. 

In  his  study  of  the  haikai,  Mr.  Basil  Hall  Chamber- 

35 


36  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

lain  *  calls  them  "  the  lyric  epigrams  of  Japan."  This 
title  defines  two  of  their  essential  qualities — brevity 
and  the  power  of  suggestion.  The  lyric  epigram 
has  scarcely  any  analogy  in  Occidental  poetry.  It 
is  a  perfect  exemplary  of  the  Japanese  spirit ;  its 
terseness  holds  even  in  the  realms  of  emotion  and 
ideality.  It  discloses  what  is  the  most  intimate  trait 
of  their  nature  and  their  most  inveterate  tendency  : 
the  instinct  of  concentration. 

The  lyric  epigram  is  one  of  the  accepted  forms 
of  Japanese  art ;  it  carries  the  general  character  of 
all  Japanese  expression  in  a  simplification  so  rigorous 
that  it  is  audacious.  One  can  compare  a  haikai  to  a 
Japanese  sketch  which  encloses,  in  a  few  precise 
strokes,  either  the  subtlest  details  of  a  human 
chronicle  or  the  spaces  of  an  infinite  landscape.  In 
the  first  instance  the  pencil  has  traced  words,  and 
in  the  second  visual  traits ;  but  the  eye  has  seen  the 
same  vision.  In  the  course  of  a  trip  through  Japan, 
I  had  as  companion  a  young  painter  who  noted 
alternately,  in  a  sketch  and  in  a  haikai,  the  impres- 
sions of  our  journey. 

Both  poetry  and  painting — one  frequently  a 
translation  of  the  other — have  had  the  same  evolu- 
tion. The  haikai,  whose  origin  is  as  remote  as  the 
end  of  the  fifteenth  century  and  whose  greatest 
vogue  was  in  the  seventeenth  and  eighteenth  cen- 
turies, developed  contemporaneously  with  the 

*  B.  H.  Chamberlain,  "  Basho  and  the  Japanese  Poetical 
Epigram,"  in  Transactions  of  the  Asiatic  Society  of  Japan,  Vol. 
XXX,  Part  II. 

I  have  borrowed  from  Mr.  Chamberlain  some  historical  notes 
on  Basho  and  some  of  the  most  charming  of  the  examples  he 
quotes.  I  desire  also  to  acknowledge  my  debt  to  the  erudition  of 
my  friend  M.  C.-E.  Maitre,  who  gives  a  substantial  notice  on  the 
haikai  in  the  Bulletin  de  FEcole  franf aise  d*  Extreme-Orient. 


THE  LYRIC  EPIGRAMS  OF  JAPAN    37 

popular  school  of  painting,  Ukyoe.  Their  name 
signifies  comic,  vulgar,  popular.  It  is  not  their  con- 
cision which  distinguishes  them  from  the  uta  or 
classic  poems.  A  uta,  indeed,  has  only  thirty-one 
syllables ;  its  form  is  that  of  a  haikai  to  which  two 
verses  of  seven  syllables  have  been  added.  The  line 
of  demarcation  between  the  two  is  rather  in  the 
choice  of  subject.  The  classic  poetry  of  the  uta 
corresponds  to  the  classic  painting  of  the  School  of 
Kano.  There  is  the  same  nobility  of  inspiration, 
the  same  refinement  of  form,  and  the  same  tradi- 
tional treatment  of  flowering  cherries,  of  reddened 
maples,  of  the  October  moon,  of  the  austere  Chinese 
landscapes  and  of  all  the  subtle  inspirational  subjects 
of  Chinese  poetry.  They  had  the  same  public  : 
the  courts  of  the  Emperor  and  Regent,  the  prin- 
cesses, the  great  nobles  with  a  taste  for  letters,  and 
the  prelates  with  a  taste  for  aesthetics.  The  haikai 
represent  realistic  painting.  No  subject  is  for- 
bidden to  them ;  all  the  aspects  of  Japan  meet  in 
them  and  all  Japanese  life  can  seethe  in  their  brief 
compass.  No  object  is  so  fantastic  and  no  action 
so  ordinary  that  it  cannot  inspire  a  haikai.  A  word 
of  slang  or  a  foreign  twist  to  language  often  gives 
them  their  savour.  It  is  a  form  of  expression  which 
is  without  crippling  restrictions,  and  it  is  essentially 
the  poetry  of  the  class  not  privileged  to  wear  two 
sabres. 

At  that  epoch  when  their  beauty  was  at  its  height, 
the  haikai  were  composed  by  mystical  priests  like 
Basho,  revolutionary  painters  like  Buson,  and 
naturalistic  romancers  like  Saikaku,  by  philosophers 
baying  at  the  moon,  by  pilgrims  who  dreamed  in  the 
starlight,  by  all  that  vagabond  company  which 
treads  the  footpaths  of  Japan.  It  was  this  strange 


38  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

admixture  of  men,  sometimes  rascals  but  always 
artists,  who  undertook  to  reduce  all  their  experience 
to  scraps  of  poetry. 

Until  to-day  the  uta  and  the  haikai  have  followed 
parallel  ways.  A  general  and  a  university  professor 
will  write  in  the  uta  form.  They  retouch  a  syllable 
or  two  of  an  ancient  poem,  as  a  Kyoto  painter 
imitates,  with  imperceptible  changes,  a  painting  of 
Motonobu  or  Okyo.  It  is  the  journalists  who  write 
the  haikai.  The  war  with  Russia  brought  forth 
hundreds  of  them,  in  the  same  way  in  which  it  gave 
subjects  of  popular  interest  to  the  artists. 

A  mind  entirely  consecrated  to  the  notation  of 
delicate  differences  would  give,  in  Japan,  only  a 
brief  consideration  to  these  haikai,  just  as  a  real 
chajin  would  glance  only  cursorily  at  the  work  of 
Hokusai  and  Hiroshige.  But  the  realistic  art  of 
Japan  essentially  appeals  to  a  quality  in  the  European 
intelligence.  To  appreciate  a  uta  it  is  necessary 
to  have  both  the  Chinese  and  the  Japanese  classic 
education.  A  haikai,  on  the  contrary,  even  in  its 
translated  form  instantly  strikes  us.  It  resumes  a 
vision,  directly  addressed  to  the  eye ;  it  is  a  rapid 
impression  which  may  awaken  some  sleeping  sensa- 
tion. Its  complete  import  is  doubtless  lost  for  any 
but  a  Japanese,  and  we  cannot  perceive  its  delicate 
resonances.  But  across  the  foreign  words  some 
drift  of  meaning  comes  to  us,  like  the  sound  of  a 
cithar  from  behind  a  screen  or  the  scent,  through  a 
fog,  of  plum-trees  in  flower. 


The  diversity  of  the  haikai  is  best  shown  by  a 
division  of  their  subjects  into  three  groups :   those 


THE  LYRIC  EPIGRAMS  OF  JAPAN    39 

which  deal  with  animals,  trees  and  flowers,  those 
which  deal  with  landscape,  and  finally  those  treating 
of  a  characteristic  scene,  the  significance  of  a  moment 
or  the  hidden  sense  of  an  action. 

The  power  to  create  at  a  stroke  a  visual  picture  of 
the  life  of  an  animal  is  the  least  contested  talent  of 
the  Japanese.  Their  marvellous  penetration  of 
the  animal  world  is  universally  recognized.  They 
have  the  qualities  essential  to  deal  in  it — a  patience 
which  derives  and  combines,  a  rapidity  of  glance 
which  simplifies,  and  an  intelligence  which  instinc- 
tively animates  with  life  the  object  seen.  Their 
kakemono,  their  silks,  and  even  their  household 
utensils  are  ornamented  with  cranes,  with  wild 
geese,  with  deer,  with  monkeys  and  with  carp, 
painted  with  a  sense  of  freshness  and  a  fidelity  to 
life  which  Pisanello  alone  is  capable  of  recalling. 
The  makers  of  the  haikai  vied  in  this  field  with  the 
painters.  Their  sketches  in  words  would  have 
delighted  Jules  Renard.  As  examples,  we  have  the 
white  heron  in  its  dreamy  immobility  : 

Save  for  his  thin  voice 
The  motionless  heron 
Is  but  a  drift  of  snow. 

Sokan, 1465-1554. 

Sometimes  the  movement  alone  is  preserved  : 

A  long  line  of  wild  geese 
Against  the  lonely  peak, 
In  the  moonlight. 
Buson. 

Or  the  butterfly : 

A  fallen  petal 
Rises  to  its  branch  : 
Ah,  a  butterfly  ! 

Arakida  Moritake,  1472-1549. 


40  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

The  last  example  is  typical.  A  brief  astonish- 
ment is  the  definition  of  the  essence  of  the  haikai. 
A  delicate  shock  is  its  method  of  impression.  The 
sudden  and  the  unexpected  are  the  fundamental 
bases  of  its  treatment.  The  three  little  verses  seem 
composed  to  define  a  visual  surprise.  For  example, 
this  little  scene  is  that  which  meets  a  traveller  when, 
in  the  freshness  of  earliest  morning,  he  approaches 
a  Buddhist  temple,  at  the  same  moment  when  the 
priest,  still  half  asleep,  strikes  the  bronze  bell  with 
his  huge  hammer  : 

A  mountain  temple  .  .  . 
The  bell,  at  daybreak, 
Scatters  afar  the  crows ! 

Yokoi  Yayu,  1702-1783. 

And  one's  eye  follows  to  the  farthest  distance  the 
flight  of  the  birds. 

To  the  Japanese  a  sketch  of  an  animal  neces- 
sarily evokes  more  than  it  does  for  us.  Whether 
Buddhist  or  Shintoist,  he  believes  himself  to  be 
created  of  the  same  essence  as  beasts.  The  mind 
of  the  Japanese  poet  has  an  almost  childish  in- 
genuousness which  puts  him  on  a  par  with  the  direct 
action  of  the  animal  world.  Not  that  he  for  a 
moment  attempts  to  liken  it  to  the  human  world ; 
he  tries,  on  the  contrary,  to  penetrate  these  rudi- 
mentary beings  with  a  regard  for  the  integrity  of  their 
minute  dreaming  souls,  whether  they  show  them- 
selves ill-natured,  ardent,  or  vindictive,  and  with 
the  understanding  that  they  are  always  puerile.  The 
form  of  the  lyric  epigram,  which  would  be  almost 
absurdly  terse  for  an  expression  of  human  psych- 
ology, seems  to  him  perfectly  adjusted  to  define  an 
action  of  the  animal  consciousness.  He  regrets, 
with  a  vivid  intensity,  the  limitations  of  his  instinct 


THE  LYRIC  EPIGRAMS  OF  JAPAN    41 

which  rob  him  of  the  capacity  to  feel  the  little 
flame  of  desire  burning  in  the  butterfly : 

The  flowery  dream 

Of  the  butterfly,  I  seize  it  ... 

But  it  is  gone. 

Reikan. 

A  Chinese  philosopher  had  written  a  treatise  on 
this  "  flowery  dream  "  of  the  butterfly ;  and  in  the 
margin  the  poet  put  this  haikai  as  a  commentary, 
half  touching  and  half  satirical,  on  the  attempt  to 
dogmatize  beauty. 

He  divines  with  no  less  sensitiveness  the  dream 
of  the  wandering  trout,  of  the  swallow  who  never 
ceases  his  flight,  of  the  inquisitive  sparrow,  of  the 
placid  buffalo  and  the  wild  boar's  stupid  appetite 
for  plunder.  He  has  neither  disdain  nor  indifference 
for  any  member  of  the  animal  kingdom.  Their 
small  desires  and  their  monotonous  hopes  interest 
him.  He  turns  most  naturally  to  those  whose 
incipient  consciousness  seems  to  him  suffering  or 
touched  by  nostalgia  :  to  the  apes  shivering  in  the 
winter  rain,  the  deer  which  cries  out  to  an  invisible 
mate,  to  the  new-born  mice,  searching  for  the  pro- 
tection of  their  parents,  and  to  the  fire-flies  with 
light  in  the  heart  of  their  tiny  bodies.  Insects, 
above  all,  appeal  to  him,  such  infinitely  little 
creatures  and  so  nearly  invisible  that  he  knows  of 
them  only  the  thin  sound  of  their  voices  through  the 
dark ;  yet  a  sound  of  such  vastness  that  it  seems  to 
him  the  voice  of  the  earth  itself. 

The  vegetable  world  is  painted  with  the  same 
sureness  of  observation  as  the  animal,  the  same  gift 
of  infusing  life,  the  same  delicate  tenderness.  The 
Japanese  imagination  seems  to  glide  from  one  to 
the  other,  in  a  like  effusion. 


42  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

A  tree  becomes  a  living  being,  of  a  felt  and  recog- 
nized charm.  The  willow  flings  out  its  soul 
through  the  spring  mists  in  the  sensitive  swaying 
of  its  fringes.  The  cedar  lifts  itself  in  a  tranquillity 
full  of  force ;  the  hollow  camphor  is  racked  by  an 
ugly  secret,  and  the  bamboo  is  as  slim  and  fine  as 
a  geisha  of  Kyoto.  Each  tree  has,  to  the  Japanese 
perception,  its  favourite  seasons  and  haunts.  Winter 
rejoices  the  black  pines,  rising  from  stretches  of 
silver  slopes,  and  autumn  strikes  into  life,  in  the 
valleys,  the  glory  of  maples  and  the  gold  of  the 
icho. 

Certain  flowers,  which  seem  to  have  the  subtle- 
ties of  a  secret  feeling,  draw  and  hold  the  Japanese 
poet's  attention.  Basho  is  a  little  disdainful  of 
the  crude  magnificence  of  the  chrysanthemum, 
which  seems  to  him  as  inanimate  as  porcelain.  He 
prefers  the  high-bred  orchid  to  the  camellia,  and 
paints  still  more  feelingly  the  hedge  flowers  in  their 
frail  beauty.  In  them  he  feels  the  nascent  soul 
which  inspires  his  own  emotion.  The  hill-side 
flowers  seem  to  him  to  open  to  the  passion  of  the 
wind  as  he  opens  his  own  heart ;  the  thistles  and 
the  cumin  quiver  under  the  first  breath  of  autumn 
more  sensitively  than  he,  and  the  violets  keep  silent 
in  themselves  all  the  fever  of  spring. 

A  Japanese  is  accustomed  to  place  a  flower  in  his 
room  not  as  an  ornament  but  as  a  companion. 
Many  of  the  lyric  epigrams  play  on  this  refinement 
of  taste.  The  poppy  is  even  frailer  than  a  sick 
child  : 

Alone,  in  the  room 
Where  no  soul  exists, 
A  tall  white  poppy. 

Buson. 


THE  LYRIC  EPIGRAMS  OF  JAPAN    43 

The  lily  is  as  capricious  and  impressionable  as  a 
young  girl : 

The  evening's  cold 
Touches  the  pallid  lily's  skin 
Before  it  touches  me. 

Isshu. 

Buddhism  has  exalted  in  the  Japanese  that  sym- 
pathy for  everything  animate  which  is  natural,  it 
seems,  to  the  various  Asiatic  peoples.  The  haijin, 
or  makers  of  haikai,  were  for  the  most  part  priests 
who  practised  both  their  cult  and  their  art  in  a  wide 
range  of  human  contact.  They  formed  a  third 
order  of  poetical  Buddhism.  A  universal  pity  was 
the  first  article  of  their  rule.  It  was  a  necessary 
result  of  their  tradition  and  training  that,  into  the 
light  silhouettes  of  thought  which  they  so  freely 
sketched,  there  should  creep  something  deeper  than 
an  amused  curiosity.  Their  thin  brushes  express, 
at  a  stroke  and  spontaneously,  a  little  of  the  vast 
Buddhist  tenderness. 

Absorbed  in  his  passionately  exact  measurement 
of  the  suggestive  power  of  every  word,  the  adept 
haijin  has  known  how  to  profit  by  the  particular 
train  of  thought  which  certain  names  awaken  in 
the  Japanese.  He  cites  the  cherry  blossom,  and  his 
reader  instinctively  evokes  the  superb  and  fragile 
honour  of  the  Samurai ;  the  lotus  rises  to  the  surface 
of  thought  like  the  mirages  of  Amida  and  with  the 
misty  presentiment  of  future  worlds.  The  pine 
brings  to  mind  the  dignity  and  magnificence  of  age 
and  awakens  a  longing  for  longevity;  and  in  a 
haikai  like  that  of  Nishiyama  Soin  : 

Between  the  hedges  of  two  gardens 
Floating,  swaying,  floating, 
A  willow  .  .  . 


44  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

the  Japanese  instinctively  translates  the  verse  into 
the  troubled  vision  of  a  woman  vibrating  between 
two  loves. 

This  sense  of  symbolic  value  carries  to  the  Japanese 
consciousness  a  concomitant  drama.  The  sudden 
apparition  of  a  blossom  strikes  light  from  the 
greyness  of  reality,  as  in  the  following : 

Blind  with  memories 

I  mounted  to  the  ruins : 

And  all  was  eglantines  in  flower. 

This  is  the  essence  of  the  haikai :  a  rapid  touch, 
laid  lightly  on  the  senses ;  a  pure  high  note,  which 
creates  in  us,  as  it  reverberates  and  dies,  its  own 
harmonies. 


The  three  quick  glimpses  which  make  the  vision 
of  the  haikai  can  evoke  for  us  the  breadth  of  a  land- 
scape even  more  exactly  than  they  can  particularize 
the  fine  fabric  of  detail.  Their  brevity  is  compact 
with  so  much  force  that  it  expresses  the  immense 
more  readily  than  it  does  the  miniature.  They 
carry  the  resonance  of  a  vibration  which  indefinitely 
enlarges  itself.  Indeed  the  haikai  are  above  all 
notable  for  the  vastness  of  their  interpretation  of 
nature.  The  term  "  picture "  fails  to  compass 
their  extent ;  they  are  rather  drops  of  the  essence 
of  poetry,  each  of  which  mirrors  the  whole  of  Japan. 

Sometimes  these  haikai  assemble  the  quick  nota- 
tions of  a  traveller  : 

A  mountain  cottage, 

And  by  the  well 

A  plum-tree  flowering. 

Kikwan. 


THE  LYRIC  EPIGRAMS  OF  JAPAN    45 

In  the  trembling  sunlight, 
In  golden  grain, 
A  water-mill. 

Buson. 

At  times  the  notation  is  even  briefer  : 

A  boat  and  its  net 
Fade  into  shadow. 
Evening's  freshness. 

Buson. 
Suddenly, 
In  the  autumn  sky, 
Mount  Fuji ! 

Onitsura,  1661-1738. 

The  haijin  have  always  tasted  all  the  salience  of 
their  native  land.  While  the  classic  poets  entwined 
their  dreams  about  China  and  admired  in  Japan 
only  a  limited  number  of  landscapes  so  famous  that 
they  were  consecrated  by  general  appreciation  and 
thus  corresponded  to  the  canon  of  Chinese  perfec- 
tion, the  rougher  makers  of  the  haikai  loved  the 
soil  in  all  the  sharp  characterization  of  its  pecu- 
liarities. Their  thought  scaled  the  mountainous 
islands  whose  relief  is  so  accentuated  and  so  original 
and  the  edges  of  which,  in  the  finest  mists,  dissolve 
into  the  sea  with  no  less  harmony  than  that  with 
which  spring  dissolves  into  summer.  "  Too  de- 
licious a  country,"  as  Kipling  has  said,  "  to  be  soiled 
by  a  pen."  The  haikai  is,  perhaps,  the  only  touch 
light  and  fragmentary  enough  to  express  it. 

With  their  parasols  of  straw,  swinging  their  bells 
at  the  top  of  which  tinkled  two  bronze  rings,  their 
robes  tucked  up  and  the  baskets  containing  their 
tiny  braziers  slung  on  their  backs,  the  haijin  were 
always  afoot  on  their  aesthetic  pilgrimages.  They 
experienced  all  the  marvels  and  adventures  of  ancient 


46  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

Japan,  which  one  recreates  from  the  albums  of 
Hokusai — the  Tokaido  or  the  One  Hundred  Views  of 
Fuji — from  the  old  account  of  Kaempfer  or,  better 
still,  from  the  passionate  austerity  of  the  letters  of 
St.  Francis  Xavier.  They  caught  the  water  of 
countless  torrents  in  their  tiny  cups ;  they  lay  at 
night  in  the  open  fields  and  fell  in  with  the  tur- 
bulent processions  which  followed  the  daimyos. 
Since  they  had  nothing  to  lose,  they  had  frank  and 
easy  intercourse  even  with  ruffians  and  at  times  they 
made  poets  out  of  thieves.  As  they  carried  no  arms, 
they  were  not  stopped  at  the  barriers  of  Hakone. 
When  they  approached  the  famous  temples,  they 
hung  their  well-worn  sandals  on  a  tree  as  a  votive 
offering;  and,  packed  in  the  swaying  crowd  of 
pilgrims,  they  listened  in  absorption  to  the  local 
saintly  legend,  droned  in  the  nasal  voice  of  the 
beadle.  In  an  access  of  devotion  they  plunged  into 
the  pond  of  Fudo,  tossed  a  stone  to  the  knees  of  the 
statue  of  Jiso,  patron  saint  of  travellers,  and,  in 
intention  of  humility,  rubbed  devoutly  the  shoulder 
of  the  unfaithful  Disciple.  Above  all  they  had  a 
sense  of  splendid  indignation  when  they  saw  the 
profanation  of  neglect  in  those  places  which  history 
had  made  sacred,  as  in  the  following  : 

Behold  the  tomb 

Of  the  hero  Kaneshira  : 

Now  only  pale  green  rice  ! 

Kikwan. 

April  found  them  entranced  before  the  cherry- 
trees  of  Yoshino,  and  June  knee-deep  in  the  poppies 
of  Hasedera.  In  these  effulgent  months  they  steadily 
drained  their  gourds  of  sake,  and  with  their  cheeks 
burning  they  often  fell  asleep  amongst  the  flowers. 
Most  frequently  they  made  their  journeys  alone, 


THE  LYRIC  EPIGRAMS  OF  JAPAN    47 

with  a  sense  of  the  calm  security  of  the  open  fields ; 
but  they  loved  to  haunt  the  foreign  markets  and 
listen  to  the  murmur  of  gossip  which  rose  up  with 
each  dawn. 

They  traversed  little  villages  in  the  golden  dust 
of  thrashed  wheat.  When  they  lifted  their  eyes  to 
find  kites  in  the  sky  they  knew  that  a  city  was  near ; 
their  fatigue  fell  from  them  and  their  steps  hastened 
with  the  hope  of  rest : 

Joy! 

I  approach  Nara, 

And  I  laugh  at  the  rain. 

Shorio. 

In  winter  they  sought  their  shelter  from  house  to 

house  : 

All  doors  are  closed, 
The  length  of  the  street, 
To  the  lantern  and  the  snow. 

They  knew  the  gross  surprises  of  the  life  of  the 
wayside  inn  and  the  intimate  charm  of  accidental 
hospitality ;  and  they  paid  their  host  by  reading  to 
him  a  set  of  poems,  or  made  for  him  a  little  epigram 
of  farewell.  Then  once  more  they  took  the  road, 
almost  always  on  foot,  against  wind  and  rain  and 
under  the  snow  and  the  flame  of  the  dog-days,  the 
doors  of  their  senses  thrown  open  and  their  spirits 
full  of  the  brief  flash  of  that  haikai  which  they  would 
carve  on  a  hill-side  rock  or  tie,  with  a  thread  of  silk, 
to  a  flowering  branch. 

It  was  instinctive  with  the  haijin  to  try  to  fix  his 
impression  of  a  brief  spectacle,  and  he  did  it  with  the 
eye  of  a  painter,  as  in  the  following : 

What  commotion  !  .  .  . 

Under  the  sudden  shower, 

The  sails  swing  towards  us  and  away  ! 


48  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

A  scene  frequently  owes  the  savour  of  its  charm  to 
a  single  detail : 

Pilgrims  on  the  road  .  .  . 
Their  bells  swing 
Above  the  harvest. 

Isshu. 

This  type  of  haikai  is  purely  pictorial ;  it  even  ex- 
presses a  kind  of  visible  humour.  Properly  speaking, 
a  haikai  cannot  be  witty  because  it  is  devoid  of 
reflection  or  comment.  Its  resumption  is  entirely 
visual. 

We  always  feel  behind  this  vision  the  personality, 
so  to  speak,  of  a  particular  eye.  Through  the  charm 
of  the  detail  noted  there  penetrates  that  special 
quality  which  appealed  to  a  special  appreciation  in 
the  author.  The  three  touches  of  verse  are  alive 
with  the  selective  intention  which  brought  them 
together.  They  inevitably  betray  the  sentiment, 
whether  frivolous  or  serious,  which  animated  their 
composer  and  show  the  genesis  of  an  emotion, 
whether  grave  or  fine,  which  has  all  the  personality 
of  a  definite  individual  and  of  a  definite  instant. 
In  this  sense,  a  haikai  is  an  equal  definition  of  a  state 
of  mind  and  a  state  of  soul.  It  is  thus  that  it  reveals 
to  us  all  Japan,  the  delicate  fall  of  its  rains  and  the 
variations  of  its  skies,  the  rich  mixture  of  its  verdure, 
the  arched  bridges  bright  with  the  colours  of  a 
crowd,  the  villages  sunk  to  the  knees  in  harvest,  the 
sacred  forests  dim  with  the  diffusion  of  a  spiritual 
light,  the  tiny  temples  of  the  country-side  where, 
behind  an  open  screen,  a  worm-eaten  statue  of  the 
god  smiles  in  the  shadow,  the  peaks  and  the  sea — 
all  that  goes  into  the  fabric  of  that  landscape  which 
seems  made  of  a  living  silk,  embroidered  with 


THE  LYRIC  EPIGRAMS  OF  JAPAN    49 

fringed  and  snow-crowned  islands.  But  it  also 
reveals  to  us  in  perfection  a  racial  genius  which  is 
unique,  a  completely  original  sentiment  for  nature, 
and  the  drift  of  the  dreams  of  a  people  whose 
receptivity  invariably  takes  the  form  of  art. 

We  are  perpetually  struck  by  the  Japanese  taste 
for  a  country-side  seen  under  snow  or  under  moon- 
light. It  is  possible  to  explain  this  tendency  by 
reasons  entirely  connected  with  the  pictural  sense. 
Snow  at  once  simplifies  masses  and  places  them  in 
proper  relation.  It  prepares  the  contexts  and  con- 
trasts of  the  painter  by  throwing  certain  objects  into 
the  foreground  and  softening  the  accents  of  others. 

Moonlight  is  no  less  important  in  establishing  the 
plane  of  values.  It  enwraps  verdure,  it  touches 
with  a  silent  mystery  the  tops  of  sleeping  houses, 
and  it  rests  on  a  tree  in  flower  with  the  light  of 
death.  Its  luminousness  has  the  highest  force  and 
intensity  of  concentration.  But  there  are  addi- 
tional reasons  for  the  haijin's  ardour  for  the  vibrant 
tremulousness  of  moonlight  and  the  frail  mirages 
of  the  snow.  It  is  instinctive  with  him,  the  more 
his  powers  of  appreciation  are  educated  and  special- 
ized, to  have  his  admiration  warm  to  emotion. 
The  exquisite  monotony  of  a  snowy  country-side 
and  the  poignancy  of  diffused  moonlight  penetrate 
him,  without  complexity  and  reaction,  and  soften 
all  his  thought.  It  is  in  these  simpler  manifesta- 
tions of  beauty  that  nature  seems  most  clearly  in 
unison  with  him.  The  frozen  landscape  touches 
him  with  a  peculiar  intimacy : 

Long,  long, 

The  lonely  line  of  a  river 

In  a  land  covered  with  snow. 

School  of  Basho. 


So  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

The  omnipresent  beauty  of  the  moon  is  in  these  two 
little  nocturnes : 

A  rainy  night, 

And  everywhere,  on  everything, 

A  pale  luminance. 

Etsujin. 

In  the  long  summer  rains, 
One  night,  furtively, 
The  moon  in  the  pines. 

Ridta,  1719-1789. 

The  fairy-like  fineness  of  these  spectacles  seems  to 
Mm  a  largess  for  rich  and  poor  alike : 

The  grey  villages, 
Without  gold  or  flowers, 
To-night  have  the  moon. 

Saikaku,  1641-1693. 

Both  snow  and  moon  are  universal  to  him,  and 
carry  some  of  the  quality  of  eternity. 

We  touch,  at  this  point,  a  vital  characteristic  of 
this  special  atavism.  The  most  distinguished  and 
distinguishing  emotion,  to  a  Japanese,  is  not  joy 
but  a  delicate  pain,  refined  and  spiritualized  by  the 
poetic  apprehension.  This  is,  perhaps,  another 
result  of  Buddhism,  which  enjoins  a  faith  and  a 
charity  without  hope,  which  knows  no  Church 
triumphant,  and  which  puts  sorrow  into  its  para- 
dise. The  old  poem  of  the  uta  expresses  to  satiety 
the  charms  of  melancholy.  It  analyses  the  par- 
ticular moment  when  the  cry  of  pines  in  the  wind 
is  most  despairing ;  it  feels  love  most  keenly  in  suf- 
fering and  sees  the  face  of  nature  in  its  greatest 
beauty  through  tears. 

Though  less  exclusively  dedicated  to  this  attitude, 
the  trend  of  the  haikai  is  in  the  same  direction. 
Landscapes  of  gaiety  are  rarely  noted ;  one  of  the 


THE  LYRIC  EPIGRAMS  OF  JAPAN    51 

few  of  Ransetsu  carries  some  of  the  light  movement 
of  a  holiday : 

A  cold  clear  New  Year's  Day, 
A  cold  clear  sky,  and  the 
Chattering  sparrows. 

It  is  on  a  grey  canvas  that  the  memories  of  the  haikai 
detach  themselves  most  richly  and  that  their  ex- 
pression of  fugitive  sensation  attains  the  poignancy 
of  perfection : 

The  sharp  breath  of  autumn, 
A  lantern  flashes  afar  .  .  . 
Dusk. 

Buson. 

Stillness !  Through 
The  rainy  midnight, 
The  sound  of  a  bell.  .  .  . 

Kikaku. 

Amongst  the  scattered  pines, 
Lighting,  dying,  lighting, 
The  fire-flies. 

Hakuyu. 

A  graveyard, 

And  here,  and  there, 

The  fire-flies  of  autumn. 

School  of  Kikaku. 

Between  the  three  little  lines  one  feels  the 
implacable  cold  of  death.  The  haikai  convey,  in  an 
instantaneous  flash,  the  impression  of  the  flight  of 
time.  More  sensible  than  we  to  the  brevity  of 
human  existence,  the  Japanese  note  the  imperceptible 
stages  of  its  passage.  They  instinctively  fix  and 
embalm  the  memory  of  an  instant : 

Flame  beneath  the  ashes, 
A  house  beneath  the  snow. 
Midnight. 

Buson. 


52  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

They  watch  the  slow  rotation  of  natural  phenomena, 
with  a  sense  of  differences  in  the  different  hours 
which  is  vivid  to  the  point  of  lending  each  a  per- 
sonal quality.  They  know  the  hour  of  the  bind- 
weed, six  o'clock  in  the  morning,  when  the  corolla 
of  the  opening  world  is  steeped  in  freshness ;  midday 
is  to  them  the  hour  of  the  greatest  beauty  of  the 
ivy,  when  even  the  dark  leaves  shine  with  the  sun's 
radiation ;  dusk  the  hour  of  most  delicate  sen- 
sitiveness, when  we  are  open  to  the  touch  of  any 
impression : 

Hour  of  velvet  soft-winged  bats  .  .  . 
The  soft-eyed  maid 
Throws  me  a  velvet  glance. 

Buson. 

Above  all  they  know  that  pale  hour  which  has  a 
special  name  in  their  language,  and  when,  before 
the  sun  has  risen,  the  moon  has  not  yet  died.  They 
follow  the  light  changes  of  atmosphere  no  less  than 
they  follow  the  succession  of  the  seasons.  The 
sense  of  sequences  runs  throughout  their  thought 
and  illustrates  their  profoundly  rooted  continuities. 
Their  vignettes  are  thus  not  only  notations  but 
definitions  of  a  state  of  mind.  Each  scene  has  a 
significance.  All  the  movements  of  nature  become 
human  gestures  and  her  total  immobility  measures 
itself  against  the  fugacity  of  the  individual  life. 
The  discontinuities  of  experience  conform  at  last 
to  the  certain  rhythm  of  the  great  metamorphoses, 
and  the  waves  of  accident  scatter  into  foam  against 
the  inflexibility  of  eternal  order. 


THE  LYRIC  EPIGRAMS  OF  JAPAN    53 


To  the  haijin,  as  well  as  to  the  painter,  landscape 
is  the  supreme  inspiration.  Human  incidence  in 
the  haikai  is  a  light  diversion  and  the  poet  never 
accords  the  individual  case,  no  matter  how  striking 
or  how  distinguished  in  its  manifestation,  the  same 
artistic  value  which  he  gives  to  a  sketch  from  nature. 

In  the  sixteenth  century,  Matahei,  who  was 
entrusted  with  the  decoration  of  the  palace  of 
Nagoya,  made  a  new  departure  when  he  covered 
the  fine  screens  of  the  interior  with  human  figures. 
He  divided  his  vast  landscape  into  sections,  alive 
with  illustrations  of  personal  activity.  The  life  of 
the  period  flows  richly  and  actually  across  the  folds ; 
the  stir  of  colour  and  the  long  rhythm  of  the  move- 
ment are  those  of  a  Japanese  Watteau.  The  detail 
is  precise,  the  costumes  exact  in  all  their  beauty  and 
the  gestures  never  fail  to  be  salient.  Public  taste 
was  surfeited  with  the  sombre  and  magnificent 
refinement  of  the  Ashikaga,  in  its  Japanese  reflection 
of  the  Sung  period.  The  popular  eye  was  beginning 
to  find  the  Sesshu  landscapes  thin,  in  their  unity  of 
tone  and  their  attempt  still  further  to  simplify  an 
extreme  simplicity.  A  new  wave  of  Chinese  in- 
fluence had  broken  and  passed.  The  sumptuous 
Ming,  with  its  golden  embroideries,  its  peacocks 
and  rare  flowers,  its  rivers  of  goldsmith's  work  and 
its  dedication  to  magnificence  of  colour,  was  the 
fitting  expression  of  the  passion  for  luxury  of  the 
epoch  of  Hideyoshi.  Into  the  splendours  of  this 
romanticism,  Matahei,  in  his  art,  infused  realistic 
expression.  The  battle  of  artistic  formulae  was  as 
ardent  in  the  Japan  of  the  sixteenth  as  in  France  of 


54  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

the  nineteenth  century.  There  emerged  from  it 
the  Ukyoe,  that  school  of  a  vivid  realism,  whose 
glory,  though  it  is  contested  in  Japan  itself,  has  been 
proclaimed  in  our  time  by  Europe  and  by  America. 
About  the  same  period  the  haijin  slipped  into 
their  collections,  between  their  notes  on  the  scent 
of  a  flower  and  the  tenuous  mists  of  the  autumn 
moon,  some  slight  sketches  of  men  and  of  women. 
But  the  courage  to  produce  this  type  of  work  did 
not  come  to  them  until  later.  In  the  seventeenth 
century,  which  is  their  golden  age,  they  are  still 
essentially  inspired  by  landscape  and  by  animal  life. 
In  the  eighteenth  century  the  haikai  become  more 
frequently  miniatures  of  human  personality.  Entire 
collections  are  consecrated  to  this  theme.  Their 
scenes  change  to  those  of  life  in  the  country  inn  and 
in  the  artist's  workshop,  in  the  theatre  and  in  the 
sacristy,  in  the  towns  and  the  villages,  and  all  the 
human  comedy  is  resumed  in  the  flash  of  rapid 
gestures.  The  haijin  developed  a  particular  subject 
until  he  made  of  it  his  specialty.  One  would  excel 
in  noting  the  eccentricities  of  country  folk,  another 
in  depicting  courtesans ;  some  drew,  in  their  pig- 
ment of  words,  only  women,  as  Haronobu  or  Koryu- 
sai  drew  only  women  in  their  prints.  Prints  and 
poems  flow  together  in  the  unity  of  their  artistic 
apprehension.  It  is  difficult  to  dissociate  the 
following  from  its  visual  expression : 

Her  saucepan  in  her  hand, 
She  runs  across  the  little  bridge 
Through  the  snow. 

Buson. 

Or  in  this  apparition  of  the  young  girl  awaiting  her 
lover  in  an  autumn  garden : 


THE  LYRIC  EPIGRAMS  OF  JAPAN    55 

The  steps  of  him  I  wait, 
How  far  they  sound  .  .  .  faint 
Upon  the  fallen  leaves ! 

Buson. 

We  see  also  in  actuality  the  wood-cutter's  wife, 
carrying  on  her  head  the  bundle  of  sticks  to  which 
she  has  added,  for  her  sense  of  beauty,  some  scarlet 
leaves ;  the  young  wife,  with  her  head  weighted  by 
her  heavy  hair  and  her  long  neck  of  old  ivory.  Each 
one  only  passes  and  has  time  to  make  only  a  single 
gesture.  It  is  the  extreme  use  of  the  vital  instant 
or  the  evocative  attitude,  as  in  the  following,  of 
Kikin,  when  we  get  the  concentrated  force  of  the 
turbulence  in  a  young  girl's  heart : 

"  'Tis  summer  has  made  me  thin  and  sad  !  " 

But  as  she  speaks 

Her  heart  breaks  in  tears. 

The  haijin,  poetic  vagabond  as  he  was,  could  never 
resist  making  his  caricature  of  the  people  he  met  on 
his  way :  the  garrulous  gardener,  the  hunter  with 
his  bow  and  arrow,  awaiting  a  quail,  the  light- 
hearted  workman,  a  handkerchief  about  his  head 
and  his  pipe  thrust  in  his  belt.  He  watched  the 
trembling  flame  of  the  fire  of  hemp  kindled  on  a 
fisherman's  boat  and  followed  with  his  eye  a  traveller 
across  a  bridge  whose  length  is  proverbial : 

Under  the  beating  rain 

A  man  runs  the  long  length 

Of  the  bridge  of  Seta. 

Joso. 

In  winter  he  catches  the  attitude  of  people  who 
bend  before  the  wind  and  lift  their  frozen  hands 
to  their  lips.  He  is  amused  at  the  expense  of  an 
elegant,  with  his  head  enveloped  in  a  silk  veil,  as  he 


56  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

swings  his  inlaid  sabre  and  waves  his  fan.  The 
haijin  himself  carries  only  his  old  umbrella  : 

The  moon  casts  sudden  shadows 
Of  my  tattered  umbrella, 
In  the  autumn  rain. 

Buson. 

He  follows  above  all  the  life  of  the  priests,  with 
whom  he  generally  is  or  has  been  affiliated.  He 
knows  the  secret  corridors  of  temples ;  he  has 
seen  the  gods  from  behind  the  scenes,  and  has 
examined  their  grotesque  or  pitying  faces  without 
fear.  Buson  gives  us  a  delightful  series  of  eccle- 
siastical types  :  the  great  Shintoist,  in  his  white 
splendour,  the  meditative  old  bonze  whose  only 
occupation  is  to  gather  his  lotus  flowers ;  the 
necromancer  making  his  incantations  in  the  smoking 
fire  of  benzoin ;  the  penitent  pilgrim  hidden  under 
his  vast  straw  hat ;  and  the  monk  in  his  insatiate 
search  for  alms,  who  never  ceases  to  strike  the  little 
bell  hanging  against  his  breast : 

Along  the  winding  road 

The  psalmody  of  begging  monks 

Goes  wandering. 

It  is  singular  that  amongst  this  catholic  collection 
almost  none  is  satiric.  To  the  Gallic  apprehension, 
the  short  poem  which  depicts  the  intensification  of 
personality  is  almost  invariably  pitched  in  that 
tone.  It  is  the  French  sense,  indeed,  of  the  word 
epigram.  In  this  interpretation  the  haikai,  prac- 
tically without  exception,  could  not  be  called 
epigrams.  They  express  no  action  of  raillery,  but 
a  comment  made  for  the  direct  pleasure  in  its 
creation,  and  are  far  removed  from  the  biting 
brilliance  of  Boileau  or  Piron.  The  salt  of  French 


THE  LYRIC  EPIGRAMS  OF  JAPAN    57 

epigrams  is  almost  always  in  their  play  of  words ; 
they  are  very  justly  called  mots :  "  Piron  was 
nothing,  not  even  an  Academician  "  ;  "  Egle  com- 
poses his  visage  and  does  not  compose  his  verse." 
They  are  light  lashes  of  the  tongue.  The  haikai  is 
a  coup  cTczil.  It  is  limited  by  the  limitation  of  a 
glance ;  it  is  scarcely  even  a  caricature,  since  a 
caricature  would  presuppose  the  interposition  of  an 
idea  between  the  eye  and  the  object  seen. 

But  if  the  outlining  of  the  silhouette  betrays  a 
feeling — since,  in  the  last  analysis,  all  composition 
is  conscious — that  feeling  is  almost  invariably  one 
of  an  indefinite  sympathy,  which  extends  from  a 
benevolent  curiosity  to  the  profundities  of  pity. 
To  ridicule  is  only  to  play  at  wit,  and  the  haijin's 
wit  is  touched  by  his  heart.  His  compassion  is 
sometimes  superficially  mute  but  always  sensitive  : 

The  weary  carrier 

Travels  his  road,  and  never  sees 

The  mountain  cherries. 

Buson. 

The  poet,  with  no  other  burden  than  that  of 
enjoying  the  spring  flowers,  has  the  sense  of  a  certain 
remorse  because  of  his  privileges,  as  he  watches  the 
heavily-laden  man  who  has  neither  time  nor  strength 
to  lift  his  eyes. 

Wanderer  as  he  is,  he  has  a  vital  comprehension 
of  human  misery.  His  contacts  are  far  from  that 
dream  of  moonlight  and  flowers  in  which  the  poet 
of  the  uta  uniquely  exists.  He  knows  that  the 
grinding  noise  of  a  little  saw,  through  the  night, 
means  that  somewhere  a  workman  is  struggling  to 
gain  his  bread  ;  he  has  divined  the  instinctive  effort 
of  the  woman  who  gleans  to  remain  in  the  sun,  as 


58  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

she  creeps  forward  in  her  work,  because  her  rags 
scarcely  cover  her  body ;  and  the  three  brief  lines 
are  moist  not  only  with  the  freshness  of  the  first  dew 
but  with  the  beauty  of  tears. 

The  emotion  trembling  through  the  little  poems 
at  times  vibrates  as  far  as  the  realm  of  philosophic 
sentiment.  In  the  following  haikai  is  given  an 
example  of  the  continuity  of  the  Japanese  vision  of 
life  and  of  their  custom,  on  every  New  Year's  Day, 
to  plant  before  each  house  a  pine  as  the  symbol  of 
perpetuity : 

Pines  at  the  doorway  ! 
They  mark  the  miles 
Of  the  road  to  eternity. 

Raizan,  1654-1716. 

The  next,  still  more  philosophic  in  tone,  gives  us 
in  a  flash  the  unbroken  flow  of  human  experience, 
with  all  the  Buddhistic  disenchantment.  Its  use 
of  interruption  is  more  than  a  striking  means  of 
expression  and  impression,  and  symbolizes  the  image 
of  the  sensible  world  : 

They  spread  their  beauty — And 

We  watch  them — And 

The  flowers  turn  and  fade — And  .  .  . 

Onitsura. 

The  third  is  one  of  the  most  purely  exquisite  of 
all  haikai.  Its  pessimism  is  veiled  by  a  half-shame- 
faced epicureanism,  which  is  none  the  less  enjoyed 
with  the  savour  of  a  sin.  "  World  of  dew  "  is  the 
usual  dogmatic  term  of  the  priests,  to  designate  the 
fugacity  of  things : 

This  world  of  dew 

Is,  alas,  only  a  world  of  dew  ! 

Yet,  none  the  less  .  .  . 

Issa,  1763-1827. 


THE  LYRIC  EPIGRAMS  OF  JAPAN    59 

This  is  a  resumption  of  the  haijin's  creed.  He  is 
to  perfection  a  fervent  Buddhist,  who  doubts  neither 
the  sublimity  of  his  doctrine  nor  the  efficaciousness 
of  his  morality.  He  practises  mercy  to  men  and  to 
animals,  to  plants  and  to  demons.  Seventy  times 
each  day  he  concentrates  his  thought  at  that  point 
in  his  belief  where  all  creatures  confound  themselves 
in  a  unique  being.  But  he  cannot  deny  that  fact 
evidenced  by  his  senses — that,  in  the  appalling 
journey  of  the  human  consciousness  to  the  final 
abyss  of  nothingness,  there  are  none  the  less  lovely 
moments.  He  looks  with  all  his  consistency  at  the 
inconsistent  face  of  this  world  of  unrealities ;  yet 
he  finds  it  beautiful  to  look  at. 

On  the  rare  occasions  when  the  haijin  expresses  a 
direct  personal  sentiment,  he  reverts  to  that  im- 
passioned contemplation  which  is  his  vocation.  He 
is  far  from  the  man  whose  intoxication  is  meta- 
physical :  the  noise  of  a  frog  diving  in  the  still  of  a 
pond  can  stir  the  finest  fibres  of  his  imagination. 
In  the  series  of  his  reincarnations  he  asks  nothing 
more  than  to  be  part  of  the  intrinsic  beauty  of 
nature  and  no  role  more  splendid  than  that  of  the 
mute  immobility  of  a  great  tree  : 

Oh,  marvellous  moon  ! 
Could  I  be  born  again 
A  pine  set  on  a  peak  ! 

Ryota. 

The  fewest  words  are  enough  to  express  his 
limitless  ecstasy.  Even  the  traditional  terseness  of 
his  medium  seemed  to  him  at  times  too  redundant. 
The  poet  Teishitsu  (1608-1671)  burnt  all  his  works 
with  the  exception  of  a  single  haikai  which  is  only 
an  exclamation  : 


60  JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 

Ah,  Ah! 

Is  all  the  heart  can  say 

Before  the  flowers  of  Yoshino. 

He  had  penetrated  the  essence  of  the  haikai ;  the 
fact  that  its  seventeen  syllables  are  an  interjection, 
a  cry  which  has  its  meaning  only  from  the  depths  of 
the  feeling  out  of  which  it  rises,  and  only  for  the 
sensibility  of  the  ear  which  hears  it. 


In  the  innumerable  chorus  of  the  makers  of  the 
haikai,  it  is  difficult  to  distinguish  special  voices. 
A  Japanese  can  isolate  and  analyse  them ;  the 
Western  mind  has  a  deeper  pleasure  in  confounding 
and  generalizing  their  beauty.  The  lyric  epigram 
assumes  for  us  the  qualities  of  a  national  char- 
acteristic ;  and  in  each  case  it  is  not  a  particular 
man,  but  the  entity  of  Japan,  whose  expression 
reaches  us. 

It  is,  however,  essential  to  separate  from  the 
others  the  most  ardent  and  penetrative  of  all, 
Basho  (1644-1694).  It  was  he  who  gave  the  haikai 
its  soul ;  who  transformed  it  from  a  delicate  amuse- 
ment and  touched  it  with  the  purity  of  a  work  of 
art,  a  work  which  rose  at  times  to  the  height  of  the 
religious. 

His  life  has  a  strange  context  with  that  of  Pascal, 
whose  young  contemporary  he  was,  on  the  farther 
edge  of  so  widely  disparate  a  world.  He  was  a 
Japanese  Pascal,  without  the  geometrical  sense, 
but  equally  grave  and  equally  tormented  by  the 
desire  to  discover  access  to  the  human  heart.  His 
ardently  austere  youth  received  its  deepest  impress 
from  the  loss,  when  he  was  sixteen,  of  a  friend  to 


whom  he  clung  with  all  the  passion  of  life.  Basho 
retired  to  the  monastery  of  Koya,  the  Monte  Cassino 
of  Japan,  and  lived  in  the  midst  of  nature,  of  books 
and  of  works  of  art,  absorbed  in  the  work  of  creating 
his  soul.  When  he  finally  quitted  the  convent 
he  went  to  Edo  (the  future  Tokyo),  followed  the 
courses  of  the  most  famous  teachers  of  the  day, 
and  shortly  founded  his  own  school.  He  was 
surrounded  by  priests  and  men  of  letters,  by  mer- 
chants and  nobles,  by  women  and  by  children,  and 
was  the  central  point  of  a  circle  whose  literary 
authority  was  almost  democratic  in  quality,  in  the 
midst  of  a  strictly  hieratical  society. 

At  the  age  of  thirty-eight  he  experienced  the 
profundities  of  a  second  conversion.  He  studied 
more  deeply  the  doctrine  of  the  sect  of  Zen,  a  kind 
of  Buddhistic  Jansenism,  but  a  Jansenism  both 
tolerant  and  joyous  and  whose  rigidity  is  tempered 
by  a  sense  of  art  and  of  the  charm  of  human  inter- 
course. A  bond  of  intimate  comprehension  was 
woven  between  him,  his  professor  in  Buddhism 
and  a  servant  of  the  latter,  a  man  of  no  education, 
who  had  raised  his  consciousness  to  a  high  spiritual 
illumination.  The  conflagration  of  1683,  in  which 
his  house  and  the  greater  part  of  Edo  were  destroyed, 
was  his  miracle  of  the  Holy  Thorn ;  he  escaped 
death  only  by  throwing  himself  into  the  garden 
pond,  and  the  experience  was  a  visible  illustration 
of  the  Buddhistic  text  that  all  human  life  exists 
only  as  a  house  in  the  midst  of  flames. 

From  this  moment  Basho  became  an  apostle  whose 
ardour  was  as  intrinsic  as  his  gentleness.  He  used 
poetry  as  a  means  of  conversion.  When  his  disciples 
transgressed  the  rule  of  poverty,  humility  and 
patience  he  reprimanded  them  by  saying  :  "  That 


62  JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 

is  not  in  the  spirit  of  haikai."  More  frequently 
he  taught  by  illustration.  He  set  out  with  them, 
through  the  length  and  breadth  of  the  country, 
to  give  them  a  sense  of  communing  with  mountains 
and  rivers,  forests  and  waterfalls,  to  show  them 
actual  historic  spots,  and  to  fulfil  the  canons  of  the 
Buddhistic  ideal.  He  visited  with  them  places 
consecrated  by  legend  and  by  heroism,  battlefields, 
tombs  and  temples,  and  landscapes  celebrated  for 
their  beauty,  seeking  everywhere  not  facts  but  an 
edification  of  the  spirit.  His  aim  was  not  science 
but  illumination,  in  the  Buddhistic  sense.  Basho 
was  himself  an  accomplished  mystic.  He  realized 
in  actuality  the  precepts  of  the  Zen  doctrine — 
that  doctrine  of  ecstasy  which,  using  art  as  its 
instrument  of  stimulation,  carries  its  followers  to 
the  very  summit  of  pure  contemplation  ;  a  doctrine 
at  once  powerful  and  gentle,  and  under  whose 
influence  have  developed  those  virtues  of  sim- 
plicity, nobility  and  grace  and  that  sobriety  of  good 
taste  which  is  immanent  in  the  art  of  ancient  Japan. 
In  the  costume  of  the  poorest  pilgrim,  Basho 
travelled  with  two  or  three  disciples,  his  only 
burden  a  set  of  writing  implements  and  a  few 
books.  He  slept  at  inns  or  in  wayside  huts.  At 
times  his  reputation  brought  him  an  invitation  from 
some  powerful  personage ;  in  such  instances  he 
refused  any  formality  of  reception  and  accepted  for 
himself  and  his  companions  only  a  bowl  of  cold 
rice,  served  by  the  master  of  the  house  and  not  by 
his  servants.  Without  any  attitude  of  prudery, 
he  led  a  life  which  was  extreme  in  its  purity — a 
rare  instance  in  the  midst  of  the  licence  of  the 
first  century  of  the  Tokugawa.  His  principal 
precepts  were  never  to  give  way  to  anger  and  to 


THE  LYRIC  EPIGRAMS  OF  JAPAN    63 

practise  charity  to  all  living  things.  This  tender- 
ness for  beasts  and  flowers  became  the  most  accen- 
tuated characteristic  of  the  school. 

His  disciples  educated  themselves  to  an  elevation 
worthy  of  him.  Three  of  them,  including  Kikaku 
and  Ransetsu,  who  came  from  surroundings  of 
riches  and  culture,  lived  together  in  a  little  room 
without  other  furnishing  than  a  teapot  and  a  kettle, 
and  with  its  only  ornament  a  statue  of  the  child 
Buddha  in  a  niche.  They  shared  a  single  mattress, 
which  was  so  short  that  their  feet  protruded  beyond 
it ;  and  when  the  cold  was  too  bitter  they  went 
out  of  doors  and  composed  their  haikai.  Throughout 
Japan  Basho  left  his  trace  in  this  half-convent, 
half-studio  life.  He  never  tired  of  inculcating  into 
his  pupils  the  fact  that  in  order  to  be  poets  they 
must  infuse  poetry  into  their  lives.  He  rarely 
spoke  of  art  in  any  artificial  isolation,  and  made 
little  of  the  pretended  rules  of  inventive  processes. 
In  composing  he  was  in  the  habit  of  saying,  "  Do 
not  compose  too  much.  You  will  lose  what  springs 
from  nature  ;  let  your  haikai  rise  from  your  heart." 
He  wrote  to  a  correspondent :  "  Your  zeal  in 
creative  work  is  the  best  of  news ;  but  the  heart 
is  more  important  than  any  erudition.  There  are 
many  who  can  turn  their  three  verses ;  there  are 
few  who  observe  the  rules  of  the  heart."  Elsewhere 
he  says :  "  Let  your  haikai  resemble  the  willow 
branch,  wet  with  light  rain  and  tremulous  in  the 
breeze,"  defining  in  this  way  the  fact  that  the 
emotion  with  which  the  little  poems  are  charged  is 
all  their  price. 

Basho  felt  only  contempt  for  the  banalities  of 
artificial  poetry.  The  haikai  were  far  from  unknown 
before  his  time ;  it  had,  on  the  contrary,  been  a 


64  JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 

fashion  to  excel  in  their  composition.  For  the 
preceding  century  and  a  half,  they  had  been  per- 
fected by  such  successful  poets  as  Sokan,  Moritake, 
Teitoku,  Teishitsu,  Soin  and  Saikaku.  There  even 
existed  men  who  made  a  profession  of  correction, 
and  who  retouched  the  attempts  of  beginners. 
The  art  was  in  its  fullest  vogue,  but  it  was  not 
above  the  level  of  a  fine  play  of  words.  Basho 
raised  it,  at  a  stroke,  to  a  height  where  he  alone 
could  sustain  it. 

In  a  letter  to  a  friend  he  divides  the  composers 
of  the  haikai  into  three  classes :  first,  those  who 
pass  their  lives  wrangling  over  the  points  of  cor- 
rection made  by  their  instructors — "  an  innocent 
folly  which  at  times  causes  them  to  forget  wife, 
children  and  liege  lord  "  ;  secondly,  the  rich  who 
use  poetry  as  a  distraction  and  are  indifferent  as 
to  whether  the  censors  give  them  good  or  bad 
criticism — "  they  resemble  children  at  play "  ; 
thirdly,  those  who  make  poetry  with  their  hearts 
and  who  use  it  as  a  means  to  attain  the  philosophic 
and  mystic  life — "  of  these  there  are  scarcely  a  dozen 
in  all  the  empire." 

He  died  at  the  age  of  fifty.  On  the  day  of  his 
death  he  seated  himself  on  his  bed,  his  closest 
disciples  facing  him  and  the  others  on  either  hand. 
He  sent  messages  to  several  pupils  and  charged 
those  who  were  present  to  grant  pardon  to  a  disciple 
whom  he  had  been  forced  to  dismiss  from  the  band 
for  a  grave  offence ;  then,  joining  his  hands,  he 
recited  the  sutra  of  the  Goddess  of  Pity  and  fell 
into  death  as  if  he  fell  into  sleep. 

A  list  of  his  effects  has  been  preserved  :  a  statue 
of  Buddha,  a  copper  bowl,  a  wooden  ink-pot,  a  few 
books  and  a  few  kakemono. 


THE  LYRIC  EPIGRAMS  OF  JAPAN    65 

It  was  Basho's  privilege  to  regenerate  the  taste 
of  his  day,  and  his  figure  dominates  an  entire  epoch 
of  Japanese  literature.  His  haikai,  which  are  difficult 
for  even  the  Japanese  appreciation,  are  often 
intelligible  only  to  a  mind  nourished  on  Buddhistic 
doctrine,  Chinese  literature  and  Japanese  history. 
Those  which  are  accessible  to  us  strike  us  either 
by  the  unforgettable  simplification  of  a  single 
impression,  as  in  the  following : 

An  ancient  pond, 

And,  when  a  frog  dives, 

A  sudden  sound  in  the  silence. 

Or  by  so  delicate  a  familiarity  with  animals  that  he 
recalls  to  us  St.  Francis  of  Assisi : 

On  the  flower  where  it  glances, 
Ah,  spare  the  little  bee, 
Friend  sparrow !  * 

Or  above  all  by  the  grave  and  perpetual  thought 

of  death  : 

Death  against  the  heart, 
Nothing  announces  it 
In  the  grasshopper's  song. 

The  summer's  green  ! 

All  that  remains 

Of  the  dreams  of  dead  warriors. 

This  last  example  was  written  on  the  site  of  a 
battlefield. 

*  Kikaku  once  brought  to  his  master  this  haikai : 
The  glorious  dragon-fly, 
Strip  his  wings, 
And  he  is  but  a  reddened  grain. 

Basho    reproached    him    for  the  downward    movement  of    his 
imagination  and  corrected  the  composition  as  follows  : 

Lift  a  reddened  grain 

With  wings,  and  behold 

A  glorious  dragon-fly. 
F 


66  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

Until  about  1720  the  school  of  Basho  kept  at  its 
height  the  flame  which  the  Master  had  kindled. 
Onitsura,  Kikaku,  Ransetsu,  Kyorai,  Joso,  Kyoroku, 
Shiko,  Yaha,  Etsujin  are  on  a  plane  with  both 
the  beauty  and  austerity  of  Basho's  composition  : 
some  of  their  epigrams  attain  the  absolute  quality 
of  perfection.  From  1720  to  1750  a  decline  is 
evidenced.  The  haikai  became  once  more  a  play 
of  wit,  often  nothing  more  fundamental  than  a 
charming  enigma.  But  in  the  second  half  of  the 
eighteenth  century  there  was  a  renascence  of  the 
real  haikai.  The  great  haijin  of  this  period  was 
Buson  (1716-1783).  He  was  a  painter  of  Kyoto, 
with  a  sharply  defined  independence  and  originality 
of  spirit.  At  Kinkakuji  there  are  two  rooms 
decorated  by  him,  in  a  few  strokes  of  brown  and 
ochre,  showing  an  execution  at  once  brutal  and 
confident.  The  peninsulas  advancing  into  the 
waters  of  his  lakes  are  peopled  with  trees  bent  by 
the  tempest ;  on  the  lakes  are  laden  rafts,  which 
make  their  slow  progress  by  means  of  the  long 
boat-hooks  in  the  hands  of  the  sailors.  The  pilgrim 
who  leaps  to  the  bank  recalls  the  sketch  in  the 
haikai  by  the  same  author  : 

The  boat  grounds  in  sand  .  .  . 
I  spring  to  shore 
Among  the  violets. 

Set  in  the  corners  of  the  composition  the  rags  of 
scattered  groups  of  beggars  infuse  a  touch  of  black 
and  of  rose.  At  intervals  there  is  a  note  of  yellow 
like  the  melancholy  of  a  Cazin  :  a  cottage  with 
its  thatch  torn  and  tattered  stands  against  a  horizon 
of  sandy  hills.  There  is  a  screen  by  Buson  in  the 
Kyoto  Museum,  painted  with  wild  horses  in  rare 


THE  LYRIC  EPIGRAMS  OF  JAPAN    67 

tints  of  green,  violet,  rose  and  white.  The  painting 
is  crude  and  somewhat  arid — the  white  tail  of  one 
horse  and  the  whiteness  in  the  water  of  a  cascade 
have  the  density  of  plaster — but  it  is  a  profoundly 
original  work,  of  breadth  and  of  probity,  which 
shows  none  of  the  evanescent  qualities  of  the 
desire  to  please.  During  his  lifetime,  Buson  was 
supremely  valued  for  his  haikai ;  after  his  death 
there  was  a  recrudescence  of  the  cult  for  his  paint- 
ings ;  to-day  his  fame  as  a  poet  is  again  the  more 
accentuated  of  the  two.  The  dominant  note  of 
his  haikai  is  that  of  his  sincere  love  of  the  poor 
and  the  suffering.  They  are  less  profound  than 
the  haikai  of  Basho,  less  exquisite,  less  philosophic, 
more  purely  picturesque,  possibly  more  varied, 
and  at  times  of  a  more  simple  and  poignant  humanity. 
An  anthology  of  the  haikai  of  Buson  would  give  the 
best  idea  of  all  the  various  resources  and  expressions 
of  this  art. 

In  the  list  of  the  makers  of  the  lyric  epigram 
mention  should  be  made  of  the  poetess  Chiyo 
(1703-1775),  who  wrote  with  a  delicately  feminine 
accent  of  compassion.  Every  Japanese  knows  the 
little  lines  in  which  she  has  enclosed  the  eternity 
of  her  grief  at  the  death  of  her  young  son  : 

The  little  hunter  of  dragon-flies, 
To  what  far  country 
Has  he  taken  his  hunting  ? 


The  author  of  a  biography  of  Buson  remarks : 
"  European  poetry  has  a  power  of  seduction,  but  it 
is  superficial.  Japanese  poetry  has  little  artifice, 
but  it  is  vivified  with  soul."  The  severity  with 


68  JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 

which  this  author  limits  the  field  of  our  poetry 
should  warn  us  of  the  difficulties  in  judging  the 
poetic  expression  of  an  alien  race.  There  have  been 
several  charming  definitions  of  the  haikai,  which 
may  attest  our  appreciation  of  it.  Mr.  Chamber- 
lain characterizes  it  as  the  opening  of  a  trap-door, 
for  an  instant,  on  a  tiny  glimpse  of  life ;  a  half- 
formed,  sudden  smile  ;  or  a  quick  sigh,  interrupted 
and  dispersed  before  it  has  been  heard.  In  his 
lovely  studies  of  Japan,  M.  Andre  Bellessort  uses 
particularly  happy  terms  of  definition  :  a  poem 
made  of  the  glimmer  of  light  and  the  tremulousness 
of  feeling ;  the  perfection  of  exactitude  enveloped 
in  a  dream ;  sparks  which  light  our  vision  with 
infinite  vibrations  of  sensibility.  He  likens  the 
haikai  also  to  delicate  old  fans  which,  in  the  second 
in  which  one  opens  and  closes  them,  flash  before 
one's  eyes  the  miracle  of  a  great  landscape. 

The  Greeks,  of  certain  phases  of  whose  art  the 
Japanese  art  not  infrequently  reminds  us,  believed 
that  one  of  the  characteristics  of  their  poetry  was 
a  winged  concision.  It  is  interesting  to  compare 
with  the  haikai  certain  epigrams  of  the  Anthology. 
"  The  perfect  epigram,"  as  Cyrillos  puts  it,  "  is  in 
two  verses ;  beyond  three  it  ceases  to  be  an  epigram 
and  becomes  an  epic." 

These  exquisite  distichs  are  fashioned  quite 
otherwise  than  the  haikai.  Instead  of  the  three 
brief  notes  of  surprise,  there  are  two  exclamations 
prolonged  by  the  rhythm  of  tragedy.  Though 
they  are  almost  as  brief  as  the  haikai,  their  difference 
in  essence  is  enclosed  in  their  limited  space.  They 
are  impregnated  with  a  ritual  gravity  and  a  nobility 
of  grandeur,  and  one  feels  it  their  destiny  to  be 
inscribed  in  perpetuity  on  bronze  or  marble,  and 


not  on  the  light  scrap  of  silk  paper  which  is  as 
tenuous  as  a  flower. 

The  great  columns  of  Naxos,  Megatimos  and  Aristophoon 
Are  planted,  oh  vast  Earth,  in  thy  breast. 

Archilochus  of  Paros. 

Alkibe  gave  her  ritual  veil  of  hair 
To  Hera,  who  vouchsafed  the  sanctity  of  marriage. 

Archilochus. 

To  the  fisher  Petagon  his  father  Meniscos  consecrates 
His  fish  trap  and  his  oar,  symbols  of  his  hard  life. 

Sappho. 

Prexedike  has  made  it,  Dyseris  has  designed  it, 
This  sacred  mantle  :  their  love  has  united  in  it. 

Anacreon. 

Those  who  brought  to  Phoebus  the  booty  of  the  Tyrrhenians, 
The  same  sea,  the  same  bark,  the  same  tomb,  holds  them. 

Simonides  of  Ceos. 

The  solemn  distich  falls  into  the  slower  move- 
ment of  mourning  in  the  following : 

A  child  of  twelve  years !     Philip  has  laid  here 
His  son  Nicoteles,  his  only  hope. 

Callimachus. 

Ordinarily  the  Greek  epigrams  are  composed  of 
two,  three  or  four  distichs.  Like  the  haikai  they 
remained  an  intellectual  fashion  for  centuries.  It 
was  a  matter  of  pride  to  turn  them  exquisitely 
and  elegantly.  Several  collections  exist  of  the  best 
amongst  them.  One  constantly  notes  in  these  the 
persistency  of  the  same  basic  idea  which  animates 
the  haikai,  but  its  advance  is  measured  to  an  even 
tread,  instead  of  a  light  flight  of  feet.  The  metro- 
nome is  changed,  and  instead  of  the  Japanese 
prestissimo  there  is  the  calm  of  andante. 

There  is  a  curious  charm  in  the  contrast  between 
the  animals  depicted  by  the  haijin  and  two  Greek 


7o  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

epigrams  treating  of  animals,  by  the  poetess  Anyte 
of  Tegea,  who  was  the  Chiyo  of  Greece.  The 
first  is  on  a  goat : 

The  children  have  strapped  red  reins  and  a  bridle,  oh  goat,  to 

thy  bearded  chin, 
They  sport  before  the  temple,  that  the  god  may  protect  their 

play. 

The  next  is  on  a  dolphin : 

Nevermore  in  the  swinging  seas  shall  I  lift  my  dripping  head  from 

the  vast  deeps 
And  against  the  brassy  prows  of  ships  scatter  my  watery  breath, 

joyous  to  see  my  own  image. 
The  dark  waves  have  beat  me  to    land,  and  I  lie  conquered  on 

the  soft  sands  of  the  shore. 

The  following  are  two  Greek  landscapes,  by  Plato. 
In  the  first  the  God  Pan  speaks : 

Sit  thee  beside  this  singing  pine  whose  verdure,  far  above,  quivers 

with  every  air, 
And  on  thine  eyes,  beside  my  tremulous  brook,  my  flute  will  lay 

sleep's  magic. 

In  the  second  he  is  also  present : 

Hush,  and  drink  from  the  dryad's  rock  waters  burst  from  the 

stone.     The  sheep  call  to  their  young. 
It  is  he  who  holds  the  melodious  flute.    To  the  gathered  reeds 

Pan  has  touched  his  moist  lips, 
And  they  cluster  around  and  their  restless  feet  feel  for  the  dance — 

Nymphs  of  water  and  Nymphs  of  the  wood, 

In  the  final  example  the  epicurean  sense  of  the 
ephemeral  is  a  far  echo  of  the  haijin's  Buddhistic 
sense  of  mortality : 

Here,  even  now,  are  roses  and  young  peas,  and  the  delicate  hearts 

of  cabbages,  those  that  are  first  to  be  cut, 
And  anchovies  with  their  moisture,  fresh  white  cheese,  and  the 

pale  leaves  of  curled  lettuces. 


THE  LYRIC  EPIGRAMS  OF  JAPAN    71 

Shall  we  not  climb  the  cliffs  and  look  afar,  oh  Sosylos,  as  we  have 

done  each  year  ?  .  .  . 
Behold,  Antigene  and  Bacchios  yesterday  loved  in  the  sun ;  to-day 

cold  earth  receives  them. 

Philodemus. 

In  French  expression,  certain  extremely  terse 
poems  of  Verlaine  are  perhaps  what  most  intrinsically 
convey  the  Japanese  essence.  Even  these  contain 
four  or  five  times  as  much  matter  as  the  Japanese 
poems.  The  apparent  facility  in  the  construction 
of  a  haikai  is  its  most  inherent  danger.  It  is  the 
form  of  literature  from  which  the  so-called  literary 
manner  is  most  completely  excluded.  Since  expres- 
sion is  reduced  to  what  may  be  called  a  supreme 
minimum,  it  is  impossible  to  create  in  this  space 
an  elemental  beauty  unless  one  has  had  an  elemental 
sensation  or  a  genuine  emotion.  A  haikai  is,  indeed, 
a  pure  sensation ;  and,  if  this  sensation  is  no  more 
than  ordinary  in  its  revelation,  the  fabric  falls  to 
pieces.  On  the  other  hand,  as  a  form  to  phrase 
in  its  palpitant  purity  an  acute  moment  of  life, 
there  is  perhaps  no  poetic  composition  superior  to 
that  of  the  haikai.* 

The  interest  of  such  attempts  in  French  is  that 
it  shows  what  an  effort  of  limitation  the  Western 
artist  must  impose  on  his  receptivity  in  order  to 
condense  his  feeling  into  a  unique  sensation.  This 

*  Julien  Vocance  (Cent  visions  de  guerre),  during  the  winter  of 
1914  and  the  year  1915,  in  the  Champagne  trenches  where  he 
fought  and  was  wounded,  conceived  the  idea  of  noting  in  this 
form  his  impressions  of  the  war.  The  lyric  epigram  proved  to  be 
extraordinarily  adapted  to  express  this  terrible  substance.  In  my 
opinion,  these  haikai  of  Julien  Vocance  are  worthy  to  be  placed 
beside  the  Japanese  models,  as  one  of  our  prints  is  sometimes 
hung  beside  the  Japanese  example  which  has  inspired  so  much 
of  its  beauty.  [Author's  Note.] 


72  JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 

compression  is  natural  to  the  Japanese  poet.  It 
is  strange  to  think  that  Japanese  poetry  almost  in 
its  entirety — the  poetry  of  thirteen  centuries — is 
composed  of  these  tiny  morsels,  for  the  poems  of 
three  verses  are  the  primitive  poems  of  five  verses 
divided  in  half.  In  the  work  of  all  French  poets 
it  would  be  possible  to  trace  passages  which,  if 
isolated,  would  exist  as  haikai.  In  La  Fontaine, 
above  all,  there  are  perfect  ones.  But  all  these 
are  inserted  in  a  whole  which  flows  to  its  own  end. 
The  Japanese  poet  would  treat  them  for  their 
individual  value.  One  notes  here  an  essential 
divergence  between  the  Japanese  and  the  French ; 
the  most  fragmentary  of  the  French  poets  are 
eminently  constructive  compared  to  theirs. 

These  differences  are  finally  reducible  to  the 
elements  of  psychologic  definition.  An  Occidental 
mind  instinctively  constructs ;  a  Japanese  mind 
instinctively  dissociates.  This  is  an  atavistic  ten- 
dency, a  trend  of  habit  accentuated  by  early  educa- 
tion and  at  times  corrected  by  advanced  instruction. 
The  French  child  who  tries  his  hand  at  drawing 
first  makes  a  house  or  a  man ;  the  little  Japanese 
draws  a  tree  or  the  curve  of  a  finger-nail.  The 
one  reacts  at  once  to  the  whole ;  the  other,  with 
the  immediacy  of  instinct,  to  detail.  Their  differ- 
ences of  impression  and  of  execution  are  after  all 
differences  of  immensity,  if  they  have  the  great- 
ness to  integrate  their  dreams  and  if  one  becomes 
a  Corot  and  the  other  a  Motonobu. 


JAPANESE    PATRIOTISM 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM 

OKTO,  6th  February  1904.  An  im- 
perial decree,  published  this  morning, 
promulgates  the  continuance  under 
arms  of  the  marine  forces  which 
were  shortly  to  be  demobilized. 
A  fact  still  more  serious,  and  the 
publication  of  which  has  been  for- 
bidden, is  that  the  army  reservists  have  been  called 
to  the  colours.  A  crowd  is  gathered  about  the 
barracks  to  acclaim  them.  There  is  a  general  belief 
that  the  declaration  of  war  is  imminent. 

The  government  keeps  the  public  in  complete 
ignorance  of  both  its  intentions  and  its  decisions. 
An  absolute  censorship  is  exercised  in  regard  to  all 
news  concerning  military  operations.  Even  to-day, 
when  the  streets  of  Tokyo  are  alive  with  the  excite- 
ment caused  by  the  issuance  of  the  call  to  reservists, 
the  papers  refrain  from  publishing  this  order.  This 
state  of  ignorance  fails  to  calm  general  opinion  and 
definitely  exasperates  it.  During  the  six  months 
that  the  government  has  passed  through  a  period 
of  hesitation  and  delay,  the  patriotic  and  military 
ardour  of  the  people  has  been  progressively  inflamed. 
From  the  class  of  journalists  and  professors  this 
ardour  has  penetrated  to  the  merchant  class,  to 
workmen  and  to  women.  My  rickshaw  man  has 
fervent  visions  of  the  conquest  of  Corea  ;  a  charm- 

75 


76  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

ing  young  lady  told  me  yesterday  that  her  two 
brothers  have  joined  the  colours  and  that  she 
herself  is  enlisted  as  a  nurse.  Nothing  in  Japan 
equals  the  popularity  of  the  Red  Cross,  and  every 
mousme  wishes  to  crown  her  dark  hair  with  a 
white  muslin  cap.  The  little  soldiers  one  passes 
in  the  streets,  with  all  their  straps  tightly  buckled 
and  their  equipment  shining,  are  red  with  the 
excitement  of  anticipation.  No  war  has  ever  been 
acclaimed  here  with  a  more  universal  popularity, 
and  there  has  never  been  a  more  unbroken  confidence 
in  victory.  The  government,  which  alone  could 
define  for  the  country  the  actuality  of  the  difficulties 
to  be  overcome,  is  silent,  and  this  silence  augments 
the  general  confidence. 

It  is  interesting  that  the  commercial  class  are 
the  most  keenly  enthusiastic  for  the  war.  Possibly 
they  foresee  a  stimulation  of  trade.  It  is  they  who 
swell  the  membership  of  the  many  national  leagues 
recently  founded,  and  who  are  most  noticeable  at 
patriotic  banquets.  At  the  moment  they  have 
collected  two  million  yen  as  a  war  subscription. 
With  them  must  be  ranged  the  instructors  and 
professors,  who  have  had  a  paramount  influence  in 
transforming  what  was  in  reality  a  war  of  con- 
flicting interests  into  a  war  of  an  almost  sacred 
enthusiasm.  The  patriotic  intensity  of  hatred  for 
Russia  is  not  new  in  Japan.  The  smallest  school- 
child  is  sensitive  to  the  stigma  of  the  ceding  of 
Sakhaline,  in  1875,  in  exchange  for  a  group  of 
valueless  islands ;  above  all  he  is  aware  of  the  fact 
that  the  Russians  deprived  Japan  of  the  fruits  of 
her  conquests  in  China.  Every  one  quotes  the 
teacher  who  taught  his  pupils  to  walk  on  the  snow, 
in  order  to  accustom  them  to  the  climate  of  the 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  77 

enemies  of  Japan.  There  is  acute  appreciation  of  the 
fact  that  what  Russia  now  menaces  is  Corea,  the 
country  twice  conquered  by  Japan  and  the  goal  of  her 
secular  ambition  ;  and  this  at  a  moment  when  Japan 
is  stronger  than  at  any  previous  period  of  her  history, 
when  she  has  emerged  victorious  from  two  wars 
and  when  she  owns  the  largest  armoured  ships  in 
the  world.  This  is  the  belief  of  the  little  Japanese 
and  what  inspires  his  impatience  for  departure ; 
it  is  evident  this  people  has  had  no  education  in 
the  spirit  of  defeat. 

While  all  the  action  of  the  government  isolates 
it  from  the  nation  at  large,  the  people  are  con- 
comitantly  conscious  of  a  complete  unanimity  of 
determination.  The  vivifying  force  of  this  en- 
thusiasm is  such  that  if,  at  the  moment,  the  Japanese 
obtained  by  diplomacy  all  the  advantages  they 
hope  to  achieve,  there  would  exist  an  inevitable 
disappointment.  They  are  keyed  up  to  the  ardour 
of  a  war  with  a  European  power,  in  order  to  astonish 
Europe ;  and  they  are  convinced  that  any  con- 
cessions on  the  part  of  Russia  would  bear  the  stamp 
of  perfidy. 

With  war  openly  desired  by  those  business  interests 
hostile  to  Russia  and  passionately  longed  for  by  the 
nation  at  large,  the  issues,  as  it  seems,  have  been 
determined  by  a  silent  and  circumspect  government. 
The  Japanese  fleet  is  concentrated  between  Sasebo 
and  Tsushima ;  the  people  have  heard,  with  some 
anxiety,  that  the  Russian  fleet  has  left  Port  Arthur 
for  an  unknown  destination ;  they  can  only  await 
developments. 

8th  February.  The  various  journalists  are  sum- 
moned to  meet  this  evening  at  the  Ministry  of 
Foreign  Affairs,  to  receive  an  announcement  from 


78  JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 

Baron  Komura.  In  these  eight  months  of  waiting 
for  a  definitive  word,  it  is  the  first  time  that  a 
member  of  the  government  has  made  any  declara- 
tion. During  this  silence  the  newspapers  have  been 
left  to  formulate  their  own  opinions,  without  either 
moderation  or  enlightenment  from  official  sources, 
and  they  have  been  constantly  discouraged  by  the 
strangeness  of  this  reserve.  They  have  finally,  and 
in  desperation,  published  anything  and  everything 
in  order  to  elicit  at  least  correction ;  but  the 
government  has  steadily  refused  to  direct  public 
opinion.  This  has  been  its  greatest  weakness.  It 
is  possible  that  the  official  world  itself  will  now  be 
influenced  by  the  publication  of  fictitious  and 
exaggerated  statements,  which  have  all  that  dis- 
proportion of  judgment  which  comes  from  editorial 
offices.  The  more  the  journalists  have  felt  the 
reserve  of  the  politicians,  the  more  their  irritation 
has  grown.  They  have  excited  the  country  at 
large  and  given  its  enthusiasm  the  dangerous  note 
of  infatuation.  From  a  troublesome  neighbour 
Russia  has  been  changed  by  the  newspaper  men 
into  an  ogre. 

It  is  announced  each  morning  that  Russia  will  be 
easier  to  conquer  than  China ;  and  since  Japan  has 
never  had  the  salutary  experience  of  misfortune, 
since  a  wave  of  Cossacks  sweeping  from  the  North 
to  the  South  has  never  given  another  turn  to  the 
opinion  of  the  populace,  this  statement  has  been 
half  credited.  If  war  is  definitely  announced 
to-night,  the  triumph  of  the  journalists  will  be 
complete.  They  have  done  everything  possible  to 
render  it  inevitable. 

Last  December  the  two  Chambers  had  an  exist- 
ence of  only  five  minutes  before  their  dissolution, 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  79 

and  it  is  therefore  only  to  the  press  representatives 
that  the  Minister  will  read  his  declaration.  The 
diplomatic  corps  has  in  the  course  of  the  day  been 
apprised  of  the  contents  of  this  declaration.  It  is 
understood  that  since  the  6th  oral  negotiations  with 
Baron  de  Rosen  have  ceased.  For  the  last  two  days 
reservists  from  the  country  at  large  have  poured 
into  Tokyo.  The  coolies  are  erecting  temporary 
shelters  for  horses  along  the  length  of  the  canals. 
There  is  a  general  belief  that  action  is  imminent. 

At  half-past  nine  I  met  one  of  the  staff  of  the 
Yomiuri,  who  told  me  that  though  nothing  was 
certain  the  rupture  of  negotiations  had  been 
announced,  and  hurried  on  to  prepare  his  article. 

tyh  February.  The  papers  have  published  the 
declaration  of  the  Ministry ;  and  at  a  stroke  we  have 
learned  the  result  of  the  negotiations  and  in  what 
they  have  consisted.  On  the  1 2th  of  last  August, 
Japan  claimed  a  quasi-protectorate  in  Corea,  with 
an  engagement  to  respect  commercial  freedom ; 
this  also  involved  the  recognition  by  Russia  of 
Chinese  sovereignty  and  commercial  freedom  in 
Manchuria.  On  the  3rd  of  October,  Russia  refused 
to  assume  alone  any  engagement  regarding  Man- 
churia and  demanded  that  Japan  should  undertake 
not  to  use  Corea  for  any  strategic  purposes.  Her 
requirements  included  the  establishment  of  a  neutral 
zone  in  the  north  of  Corea  and  a  recognition  by  Japan 
that  Manchuria  was  beyond  the  sphere  of  her 
interests.  This  was,  in  a  word,  the  proposition 
known  as  Manchuria  against  Corea.  Japan  cate- 
gorically refused  it,  calculating  that  a  half -Japanese 
Corea  would  be  menaced  by  a  Manchuria  completely 
Russian.  At  this  point  negotiations  were  sus- 
pended, and  they  have  now  been  broken  off.  Japan, 


8o  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

concludes  the  declaration,  "  has  abandoned  all  hope 
of  reconciliation." 

It  is  undeniable  that  it  is  difficult  to  see  either 
an  imperative  or  urgent  reason  for  war.  Nor  does 
the  situation  contain  a  serious  threat  against  the 
security  of  Japan  or  even  against  the  probable  develop- 
ment of  her  ambitions.  What  is  definite  is  that 
Japan  fears,  even  if  she  is  given  a  complete  liberty 
in  Corea,  that  she  may  be  preceded  there  by  Russians, 
and  that  she  would  in  consequence  be  unable  to 
absorb  it  as  quickly  as  they.  The  Japanese  enter- 
prise in  Corea  is  insignificant  in  comparison  with 
the  Russian  enterprise  in  Manchuria.  This  is  the 
stimulative  point  of  action.  Japan  has  until  now 
been  little  of  a  colonist  and  has  only  a  meagre 
power  of  expansion.  She  wishes  to  change  this 
state  of  things  by  force,  and  the  basic  motive  of 
the  war  is  that  she  believes  this  occasion  to  be 
favourable.  She  has  imposed  on  herself  heavy 
sacrifices  to  obtain  an  army  and  navy  of  the  first 
rank,  and  is  eager  to  profit  by  this  advantage.  The 
sensibility  of  the  nation  has,  above  all,  been  wounded 
by  the  form  of  the  negotiations  and  by  the  indolence 
of  Russia  in  replying.  This  was  a  false  step  which 
the  Russians  should  have  avoided  in  dealing  with 
the  proudest  and  most  sensitive  of  peoples. 

Though  the  government  makes  no  categorical 
announcement,  no  one  is  deceived  as  to  its  inten- 
tions. The  newspapers  assume  the  accent  and 
attitude  of  stirring  days ;  some  exaggerate  the  tone 
of  their  arguments  and  others  exalt  the  lyric  quality 
of  their  patriotism. 

The  Asahi,  the  journal  of  business  men,  defines 
the  principal  cause  of  war  as  the  competition  of  the 
Russians  and  the  Japanese  in  Manchuria.  To  quote 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  81 

its  article  :  "  If  Russia  had  definitively  occupied 
Manchuria,  Japan  would  have  been  deprived  of  a 
territory  suitable  to  receive  the  surplus  of  her 
population  and  which  would  have  offered  them 
admirable  means  to  sustain  life.  We  should  have 
been  continually  subjected  to  an  artificial  com- 
pression and  our  fifty  millions  of  compatriots  would 
have  been  reduced  to  the  shameful  necessity  of 
remaining  confined  to  this  small  group  of  islands, 
which  can  neither  produce  sufficient  subsistence  to 
nourish  them  nor  furnish  them  with  enough  space 
for  free  elbow-room."  The  exaggeration  of  this  is 
evident.  Of  the  fifty  million  Japanese  of  which 
the  Asahi  speaks,  a  hundred  and  thirty  thousand 
alone  reside  in  foreign  countries,  half  of  this  number 
in  the  Hawaian  Islands.  The  Japanese  is  one  of 
the  least  emigrant  of  nations.  In  spite  of  the 
density  of  its  population  Japan  is  not  overcrowded, 
and  in  all  the  northern  portion  of  the  country 
there  is  ample  space. 

The  Jiji,  an  anglophile  sheet,  subscribes,  with 
apparent  innocence,  to  the  English  prejudices 
against  Russia.  It  avers  that  Japan  will  be  fighting 
for  civilization  and  insists  on  the  enthusiastic  recep- 
tion of  this  idea.  "  Supposing  that  by  the  grace 
of  heaven  we  emerge  victorious  from  this  difficult 
struggle,  we  shall  not  only  be  in  a  condition  to 
fulfil  our  solemn  duty,  which  is  to  carry  the  light 
of  civilization  into  the  Far  East,  but  we  shall  also 
impose  upon  the  world  at  large  the  necessity  of 
respecting  us  and  we  shall  deserve,  in  the  history 
of  the  progress  of  humanity,  a  glorious  chapter." 
One  admires  an  eloquence  so  separate  from  lower 
interests ;  but  the  Jiji  concludes,  more  frankly : 
"  If  she  is  fated  to  find  a  Trafalgar  or  a  Waterloo  in 

G 


82  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

the  Far  East,  Japan  can  aspire  to  be  the  England 
of  the  Eastern  world."  The  formula  has  been 
stated  :  Japan  hopes  for  a  Trafalgar. 

Another  paper  reproaches  the  Russians,  above 
all  else,  with  their  delays  and  with  their  offensive 
negligence.  "  So  outrageous  a  treatment  is  con- 
trary to  those  rules  of  justice  which  Japan  has 
observed  since  the  most  remote  centuries."  The 
note  of  comment  here  is  simpler  and  fairer.  One 
hears  the  echo  of  the  Samurai  who,  stirred  by  a 
slight  failure  of  behaviour,  makes  out  his  vengeance 
a  sacred  duty.  The  fact  that  the  Russians  have 
broken  the  ancient  code  of  courtesy  seems  to  this 
people  to  be  their  gravest  provocation. 

So  far  as  the  aspect  of  the  streets  goes — or  rather 
of  the  roads — it  is  necessary  to  remember,  in  order 
to  estimate  the  public  manifestations,  that  Tokyo 
is  an  immense  village,  stretching  widely  about  the 
moat  of  a  huge  palace.  It  is  a  village  of  two  million 
inhabitants,  most  of  whom  live  at  the  mercy  of  the 
free  wind.  The  greater  number  of  the  houses, 
which  are  low  and  open,  resemble  those  of  small 
settlements.  The  different  quarters  are  called 
"  hamlets."  These  "  hamlets "  are  grouped  on 
hill-sides,  among  the  trees,  in  the  depth  of  valleys, 
in  the  open  plain,  on  the  banks  of  the  river  and 
of  the  various  canals ;  others  are  clustered  in  an 
ancient  park  of  the  daimyo  and  still  others  about 
an  old  temple.  The  form  of  life  is  almost  rural. 
The  roads,  which  are  without  paving  of  any  sort, 
run  along  the  flowering  hedges,  through  the  groves 
of  bamboo  and  under  the  awnings  in  front  of  the 
shops.  Even  the  few  official  buildings,  in  the  vague 
circumference  about  the  palace,  scarcely  combine 
to  give  the  impression  of  a  city  such  as  the  Western 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  83 

eye  is  accustomed  to  see.  One  finds  at  times  a  street 
which  is  more  compact  in  its  animation,  and  where 
tea-houses  and  the  wares  of  book-shops  and  print- 
sellers  are  crowded  together.  From  the  south  to 
the  north  runs  the  high  road  lined  with  the  kiosks 
where  newspapers  are  sold  and  with  the  modern 
bazaars.  In  this  vast  unorganized  village  it  is  not 
easy  to  observe  any  direct  manifestation  of  public 
opinion  or  activity.  The  people  pursue  desultorily 
their  small  errands.  The  gogai  are  already  in 
circulation,  that  is  to  say,  sheets  of  the  most  recent 
news,  printed  as  an  "  extra  "  on  tiny  squares  of 
paper.  These  are  carried  from  hamlet  to  hamlet, 
to  the  sound  of  a  bell ;  but  the  vendors  do  not 
hurry,  and  there  is  no  haste  to  seize  the  gogai  from 
them. 

The  reservists  are  gathered  before  the  shops  to 
allow  their  uniforms,  which  they  still  wear  with  an 
air  of  awkwardness,  to  be  admired.  They  carry 
their  Japanese  clothes  in  a  bundle  and  seem  a 
little  flustered  to  be  in  trousers.  The  people  press 
around,  to  compliment  them  and  make  them  little 
gifts,  and  there  is  a  general  atmosphere  of  good-will 
and  laughter. 

The  country  people  have  led  in  their  horses, 
miserable,  knock-kneed,  hairy  beasts,  which  are  none 
the  less  treasured  by  their  owners.  The  State 
ordinarily  pays  from  60  to  120  yen  for  them,  but 
on  this  occasion  it  is  understood  that  they  shall  be 
worth  only  from  20  to  30  yen.  A  poor  North- 
countryman  has  offered  for  no  compensation  an 
excellent  horse,  equipped  for  mountain  climbing, 
and  has  led  him  in,  carrying  the  animal's  feed 
himself. 

The  bazaars  are  already  offering  a  print  of  the 


84  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

expected  naval  victory,  by  Gakko,  the  first  in  his 
trade.  They  also  have  for  sale  large  maps,  where 
Corea  appears  coloured  in  the  same  tint  as  Japan. 

A  society  has  been  formed  for  the  purpose  of 
composing  such  poems  as  will  amuse  the  soldiers 
and  stimulate  their  ardour. 

At  the  South  Station  refugees  from  Vladivostok 
have  begun  to  arrive.  They  are  for  the  most  part 
coolies  and  girls  of  the  poorer  class,  who  are  full  of 
such  stories  as  that  the  Russians  tried  to  detain  some 
of  the  Japanese  women,  and  of  their  indignant  pro- 
tests, in  the  manner  of  the  heroines  of  Maupassant. 
It  appears  that  almost  all  the  Russian  babies  there 
had  Japanese  nurses,  so  these  little  creatures  are  the 
first  victims  of  the  war. 

At  five  o'clock  there  is  a  gogai :  two  Russian  ships 
are  blocked  by  a  Japanese  squadron  at  Tchemulpo. 
The  news  is  entitled  "  Caught  in  the  neck  of  a 
bottle,"  with  an  evident  reminiscence  of  Santiago 
di  Cuba. 

At  ten  in  the  evening  the  little  bells  ring  out  the 
arrival  of  graver  tidings.  Three  Russian  ships  have 
been  torpedoed  at  Port  Arthur  and  there  is  a  general 
engagement. 

loth  February.  The  official  despatch  from 
Tchemulpo  reads  that  after  a  fruitless  attempt  at 
escape,  and  after  Admiral  Uryu's  warning  that  they 
were  violating  the  neutrality  of  the  port,  the 
Varyag  and  the  Koreets  brought  on  themselves  their 
own  destruction.  The  despatch  does  not  publish 
the  number  of  Japanese  war-ships  engaged,  which 
would  scarcely  be  flattering  to  Japanese  pride. 

The  news  from  Port  Arthur  is  confirmed,  but  the 
outcome  of  the  battle  is  not  yet  known. 

The  Europeans  here  are  indignant  at  this  sudden 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  85 

aggression  on  the  part  of  Japan,  without  a  declaration 
of  war  and  in  neutral  waters.  I  have  been  to  see  a 
retired  Japanese  general,  to  ask  his  opinion  in  the 
matter,  and  he  surprised  me  by  the  following 
question  : 

"  And  what  is  your  opinion  of  these  Russian 
officers  who  do  not  die  on  their  decks  ?  And  of  the 
petty  officers  who  go  pleading  to  the  consulates 
that  they  should  not  be  made  prisoners  ?  Japanese 
would  never  have  done  that.  In  the  accident  to 
the  Takaimaru,  some  months  ago,  the  captain  had 
himself  lashed  to  the  main-mast  and  sank  with  his 
boat.  She  was  only  a  trading- vessel.  At  the  battle 
of  Yalou,  the  Chinese  admiral  knew  how  to  die  on 
board.  I  can  assure  you  that  if,  by  misfortune,  a 
Japanese  war-ship  were  destroyed  in  this  war,  not 
a  sailor  would  wish  to  save  himself." 

I  replied,  with  some  astonishment,  that  it  was 
difficult  to  see  why  the  suicide  of  the  Russian  sailors 
should  have  been  deemed  necessary,  and  that  the 
Russian  commandant  had  fulfilled  his  duty  cate- 
gorically. But  the  general  did  not  enter  into  this 
distinction.  I  could  feel  in  him  the  old  Japanese 
code  of  suicide  :  "to  have  a  trust,  to  fail  in  its 
discharge,  nothing  remains  but  harakiri." 

I  ventured  another  question :  would  he  not 
regard  Corea  as  neutral  territory  ? 

"  Not  in  the  least.  We  do  not  admit  this  pre- 
tension of  neutrality.  The  war  with  China  be- 
queathed to  us  the  right  to  Corean  territory  for  the 
passage  of  our  troops." 

"  Is  it,  then,  in  conformity  with  the  spirit  of  the 
Samurai  to  attack  Russia  without  warning  ?  " 

"  And  why  not  ?  " 

His  tone  recalled  the  fact  that  in  the  histories  of 


86  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

heroism  which  one  sees  on  the  Japanese  stage,  cunning 
and  sudden  attack  are  raised  to  an  equal  glory  with 
suicide.  Whether  one  kills  or  dies,  the  facts  and 
the  terms  are  equally  unimportant.  One  is  suddenly 
aware,  in  the  tests  of  war,  of  certain  radical  moral 
divergences  between  Oriental  and  Occidental.  We 
have  not  the  same  definition  of  the  noble  and  the 
ignoble. 

As  I  passed  along  the  principal  street  I  found  the 
print  by  Gakko  for  sale  everywhere,  together  with 
some  old  photographs  of  the  battle  of  Yalou.  The 
gogai  are  issued  on  each  other's  heels ;  but  there  is 
still  no  statement  of  the  result  of  the  Port  Arthur 
engagement.  The  crowd  showed  neither  anxiety 
nor  turbulence.  Some  street  urchins  had  dragged 
a  Russian  flag  in  a  brook  and  heaped  pebbles  upon  it, 
but  the  people  seemed  as  calm  and  as  smilingly 
polite  as  usual.  One  wonders  whether  it  is  their 
habitual  sense  of  deportment  or  an  absolute  con- 
fidence in  victory. 

In  the  Kanda  district  several  barbers  have  hung 
out  a  sign  that  soldiers  will  be  shaved  at  half-price. 
The  half-tariff  applies  also  in  the  public  baths.  A 
midwife  advertises  her  services  as  free  to  the  wives 
of  soldiers  who  have  left  for  the  war.  A  small 
ovation  was  being  given  to  a  soldier  of  enormous 
stature.  It  appears  that  men  of  this  size  have 
framed  a  petition  that  they  be  sent  to  the  front  in  a 
single  company.  Each  of  them  is  able  to  do  the 
work  of  three  coolies  and  can  give  the  lie  to  whoever 
sneers  at  the  miniature  size  of  the  Japanese.  A  more 
touching  petition  is  that  of  the  prisoners  who  are 
nearing  the  expiration  of  their  terms.  Since  they 
are  not  eligible  as  soldiers,  they  beg  to  be  admitted 
to  the  lower  ranks  of  the  police.  It  gives  a  sense  of 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  87 

the  unanimity  of  the  country  that,  the  moment 
there  is  a  patriotic  necessity,  the  thieves  should  offer 
to  do  police  work. 

A  manifestation  was  organized  by  the  Jiji  for 
this  evening.  Several  hundred  students  met  in 
the  new  park  of  Hibiya,  carrying  red  and  white 
paper  lanterns  and  the  national  flag.  The  con- 
stables respectfully  asked  them  to  maintain  order ; 
they,  too,  carried  the  regulation  red  and  white 
lantern,  for  in  this  unlit  village  the  police  do  the 
service  of  public  lighting.  The  students  marched 
in  good  order  to  the  outer  gate  of  the  palace  ;  they 
were  followed  by  a  few  girl  scholars,  walking  on  their 
high  clogs  and  seeming  somewhat  embarrassed  and 
shy  in  the  crowd.  Before  the  closed  gates  there 
were  shouts  of  "  Banzai !  banzai !  "  and  the  pro- 
cession then  wound  off  to  repeat  the  ceremony 
in  the  enclosure  of  the  Admiralty.  They  parted 
at  last  with  many  salutations,  the  lanterns  separated 
like  fire-flies  in  the  immensity  of  the  night,  and 
peace  dropped  on  the  city;  the  moon  whitened 
the  silent  roads  like  hoar-frost,  and  gave  it  the  fan- 
tastic contours  and  values  of  Chinese  ink ;  and  the 
black  sky  was  powdered  with  the  silver  of  an 
aventurine  lacquer. 

nth  February.  Last  night  the  Emperor  made  a 
public  declaration  of  war ;  from  the  point  of  view 
of  the  Russians,  who  have  been  informed  by  such 
definite  acts,  it  must  seem  somewhat  tardy. 

The  moment  is  scarcely  a  well-chosen  one  for  the 
citation  of  Russian  brutalities ;  the  Jiji  none  the 
less  says :  "  It  is  entirely  in  the  nature  of  things  that 
the  Russians  should  provoke  to  the  utmost,  by  their 
inhuman  actions,  the  magnanimity  of  our  officers 
and  our  men.  But  we  may  be  confident  that  the 


88  JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 

Japanese  will  control  themselves  and  will  do  nothing 
contrary  to  the  universally  recognized  laws  of 
civilization  and  of  humanity.  While  the  enemy, 
stripped  of  his  varnish  of  civilization,  will  show 
himself  in  all  his  naked  barbarity,  the  moderation 
and  humanity  of  our  men  will  elicit,  as  a  contrast, 
the  sympathy  of  the  civilized  world." 

The  Kokumin,  a  semi-official  sheet,  predicts  a 
long  war.  "  We  have  not  yet  fought  on  land,  and 
we  should  not  underestimate  the  enemy  before  the 
exchange  of  some  vital  strokes.  The  comment  of 
certain  Russians  should  serve  us  as  a  warning ;  they 
admit  the  superiority  of  Japan  at  every  point  except 
one — the  capacity  for  endurance.  We  must  of 
necessity  contradict  this  estimate,  and  we  must 
summon  all  our  powers  of  firmness  and  of  per- 


severance." 


The  Asabi  believes  the  day  to  be  far  distant  when 
Russia  shall  sue  for  peace.  "  The  fact  that  she 
hesitates  to  publish  her  defeat  at  Port  Arthur 
proves  the  obstinacy  of  her  resolution."  It  is 
ironic  that  so  little  does  Russia  hesitate  to  "  publish 
her  defeat  "  that  it  is  through  the  Alexeieff  report, 
sent  back  from  Paris  by  M.  Motono,  that  Japan  has 
to-day  learned  the  details  of  her  success. 

To-day  is  a  national  fete  :  the  anniversary  of  the 
foundation  of  the  Empire,  at  the  time  of  Romulus, 
by  Jimmu  Tenno,  great-grandson  of  the  Sun. 
There  is  a  great  display  of  flags — fewer,  however, 
than  on  New  Year's  Day.  The  Emperor  gives  a 
breakfast  to  the  various  diplomats,  after  which  he 
is  to  receive  the  guardians  of  the  sacred  treasures. 
These  treasures,  the  possession  of  which  designates 
the  Emperor,  are  :  the  mirror  of  the  goddess,  Sun, 
the  sabre  of  the  god,  Typhon,  and  a  sacred  jewel. 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  89 

The  day  is  further  celebrated  by  a  performance  of 
the  No  :  five  lyric  dramas  with  chorus,  orchestra 
and  dances. 

I  strolled  into  the  theatre,  to  gossip  about 
Japanese  matters  with  a  friend.  The  public  is 
extraordinarily  calm.  The  gogai  are  not  dis- 
tributed, and  no  one  seems  to  attach  any  importance 
to  them.  There  is  no  atmosphere  of  war  ;  for  that 
matter,  there  is  none  throughout  Tokyo,  except  in 
the  barracks  and  in  the  newspaper  offices. 

They  were  playing  Sumidagawa,  one  of  the  most 
celebrated  of  the  No.  A  woman,  who  carries  the 
reed  which  indicates  madness,  learns  from  a  boatman 
that  the  child  she  is  seeking  was  drowned,  some  years 
since.  The  songs,  the  orchestra,  and  the  lines  of 
the  poem  unite  in  the  expression  of  this  sorrow. 
The  movement  of  river  waves,  the  rustle  of  bamboos 
and  the  stir  of  the  wind  murmur  in  concert  the 
prayer  of  the  dead  to  Amida.  By  degrees  the 
strident  and  plaintive  music  grows  vaster ;  the 
mother  hears  through  it  the  voice  of  her  child 
invoking  Amida.  The  child  suddenly  appears  to 
her,  with  the  terrifying  hair  of  a  spirit ;  twice 
she  tries  to  embrace  it  and  twice  it  melts  from 
her  grasp  and  disappears. 

The  story  is  profoundly  impressive,  and  the 
people  around  were  moved  to  the  point  of  tears. 
Their  openness  to  artistic  impression  is  unfailing ; 
it  is  difficult  to  realize  that  their  sons  and  brothers 
are  at  this  moment  on  the  high  seas,  fighting  a  great 
battle. 

Baron  de  Rosen,  the  Russian  Minister,  has  left. 
He  was  fated  to  learn  here  the  reverses  which  have 
come  to  his  country.  He  has  been  surrounded 
with  sympathy ;  the  Court  and  the  various  Ministers 


90  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

have  sent  representatives  to  take  leave  of  him,  and 
all  the  foreign  Ministers  were  present  at  his  depar- 
ture, except  those  of  Corea  and  China.  The 
Empress  gave  Madame  de  Rosen  some  magnificent 
gold  and  silver  lacquers. 

The  newspapers  have  joined  in  this  manifestation 
of  sympathy.  "  Baron  de  Rosen,"  says  the  Kokumin, 
"  is  one  of  Japan's  best  friends  and  one  who  has  most 
intimately  comprehended  us.  He  has  served  his 
government  with  an  impeccable  devotion  and 
loyalty  and  he  has  always  shown  us  his  good-will. 
The  Japanese  preserve  intact  their  friendly  senti- 
ments for  the  Court  of  Russia  and  its  representative, 
and  they  wish  nothing  better  than  that  Baron  de 
Rosen  should  shortly  find  himself  here  again." 

"  It  was  beyond  Baron  de  Rosen's  power,"  says 
the  Asahi,  "  to  prevent  the  present  crisis ;  indeed, 
it  was  also  beyond  the  power  of  the  Tsar.  We  have 
the  highest  personal  regard  and  respect  for  Baron 
de  Rosen  and  for  his  master,  the  Tsar,  both  of  whom 
are  above  any  prejudice  of  hostility  of  race  or  of 
religion.  Let  us  hope  that,  in  fighting  with  equal 
devotion  to  their  relative  causes  and  as  honourable 
enemies,  the  two  belligerents  will  not  lose  their  old 
sense  of  personal  esteem ;  let  us  trust  that  they  can 
deal  with  each  other  like  two  friends  placed  in  a 
temporarily  false  position." 

At  this  hour,  and  fugitive  as  it  may  be,  one  has 
the  tragic  impression  of  a  war  at  the  base  of  which 
lies  no  hatred. 

Almost  all  the  Russians  have  left  with  Baron  de 
Rosen ;  there  was  a  sad  leave-taking  at  the  station 
between  the  Minister  and  the  orthodox  bishop  of 
Tokyo,  Monsignor  Nicolai.  Baron  de  Rosen  urged 
him  to  accompany  them,  but  the  bishop  could  not 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  91 

be  prevailed  upon  to  do  so.  His  life  work  has  been 
here,  and  he  has  remained  in  his  cathedral  with  the 
golden  minarets,  surrounded  by  the  twenty-five 
thousand  Japanese  Christians  who  owe  their  con- 
version almost  solely  to  his  ardour. 

The  French  Minister,  M.  Harmand,  is  charged 
with  the  protection  of  the  remaining  Russians,  and 
M.  Andre,  the  first  interpreter,  will  live  in  the 
Russian  Legation. 

12th  February.  The  Bank  of  Japan  is  about  to 
issue  a  war  loan  of  a  hundred  million  yen.  It  has 
only  a  hundred  million  of  gold  in  reserve.  M. 
Sonoda,  one  of  the  best  speakers  in  Japan,  has  begun 
a  campaign  through  the  country  to  prevent  a 
deterioration  of  value  in  the  yen.  He  is  urging  his 
compatriots  to  deposit  all  their  gold  and  silver 
objects  in  the  Bank  of  Japan,  in  order  to  assure  the 
currency  of  paper  money.  The  cost  of  the  war 
falls  most  heavily  upon  the  poorer  classes ;  the  rich, 
on  their  part,  are  contributing  their  most  priceless 
possessions.  These  are  in  many  cases  treasures 
inherited  from  generations  of  ancestors ;  in  the 
Japanese  view  their  beauty  is  only  enhanced  by  the 
sacrifice  of  them  to  patriotic  necessity. 

The  geisha  have  been  the  first  to  respond  to  this 
appeal :  they  have  brought  their  jewels,  and  some- 
times even  the  watch-chains  of  their  friends. 

The  Japanese  are  generally  supposed  to  have  little 
dependence  on  the  forms  of  their  belief ;  but  it  is 
none  the  less  evident  that  they  are  anxious  to  know 
if  the  gods  are  favourable  to  them.  In  the  first 
days  of  the  war  with  China,  a  bird  of  prey  which 
had  lit  for  a  moment  on  the  main-mast  of  the 
Takachiho  was  captured.  It  was  a  fortunate 
presage,  for  the  Takachiho  was  the  first  to  sink  a 


92  JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 

Chinese  boat.  This  time  the  same  ship,  according 
to  report,  has  cut  a  young  whale  in  two.  The 
augurs  claim  that  this  foretells  the  definite  separation 
of  the  Russian  fleet  into  two  impotent  masses. 
The  daily  despatches  give  news  of  other  forecasts. 
While  a  man  of  Bitchu  was  smoking  his  pipe,  he 
saw  an  eagle  fall  from  the  sky ;  this,  to  the  popular 
mind,  symbolizes  the  Russian  eagle.  In  Chikuzen, 
at  the  temple  of  Hachimantaro,  the  Kokumin 
announces  that  while  the  priests  were  praying  for 
Japan,  the  sacred  pigeons,  to  the  number  of  seven 
hundred,  flew  out  to  the  north-west  and  disappeared. 
It  is  cited  that  in  1894,  just  before  the  battle  of 
Yalou,  the  birds  took  flight  in  the  same  manner  and 
only  returned  after  the  Japanese  victory. 

One  gathers,  from  the  space  which  these  reports 
occupy  in  the  papers,  that  the  public  mind  is  far 
from  indifferent  to  them.  Before  he  received  his 
appointment  as  admiral  from  the  Emperor,  Togo 
had  been  chosen  by  popular  acclaim  because  he  had 
fired  the  first  cannon  shot  in  the  war  with  China. 

Marquis  Ito  was  to-day  sent  to  the  sanctuaries 
of  Ise,  to  make  a  solemn  petition  to  the  gods.  He 
penetrated  to  the  depths  of  the  sacred  forest  and, 
in  the  little  wooden  temple,  where  since  the  origin 
of  things  the  mirror  of  the  goddess,  Sun,  has  rested, 
and  before  the  light  silk  veil  which  no  one  may  raise, 
he  read  the  great  invocation.  This  is  the  ceremony 
which  marks  the  days  of  national  peril.  It  has  been 
fulfilled  at  strangely  variant  moments — at  the  time 
of  the  Mongol  invasion  in  the  thirteenth  century, 
and  in  the  nineteenth  on  the  arrival  of  the  Americans 
and  Europeans. 

The  populace  has  learned  with  satisfaction  that 
the  Tsar  has  not  gone  to  Moscow  to  offer  Jiis  prayers ; 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  93 

they  are  in  any  case  convinced  that  the  kami  of 
Moscow  is  not  as  puissant  as  Amaterasu. 

A  second  envoy  was  sent  by  the  Emperor  to 
announce  the  declaration  of  war  to  the  ancestral 
Manes.  He  declaimed  his  message  in  loud  tones,  at 
Kudan,  in  the  temple  sacred  to  those  soldiers  who 
have  died  for  their  country,  and  called  the  dead  to 
witness  that  the  cause  for  which  others  were  about 
to  die  was  just. 

i$th  February.  Rumour  has  to-day  signalled  the 
presence  of  a  Russian  squadron  in  northern  Japanese 
waters.  First  Fukuyama  and  then  Aminato  were 
reported  bombarded ;  but  all  this  stir  was  reduced 
to  the  fact  that  a  merchant  vessel,  the  Nakanoura, 
was  sunk  by  the  Russians. 

The  newspapers  have  treated  with  contumely 
the  atrocity  of  sinking  an  inoffensive  boat,  with  her 
crew,  instead  of  capturing  it.  "  Russia  will  pay," 
says  the  Jiji,  "  sooner  or  later,  for  this  capricious 
destruction.  We  merely  draw  the  attention  of 
more  civilized  strangers  to  this  crime,  which  is 
contrary  to  the  rules  of  war,  and  to  the  principles 
of  humanity."  "  An  act  of  pure  piracy,"  says  the 
Nichi-Nicbi.  "  The  Russians  have  proved  them- 
selves complete  barbarians,"  the  Asahi  states. 
"  They  are  the  Goths  and  Vandals  of  the  North, 
insensible  to  shame  and  defiant  of  heaven."  The 
Kokumin  remarks :  "  Our  conduct  in  regard  to 
Russian  merchant  vessels  has  been  entirely  different. 
We  have  refrained  from  inflicting  the  smallest 
injury  on  the  sailors ;  indeed,  they  have  been 
surprised  at  our  generosity.  In  regard  to  the 
prisoners  of  war  taken  at  Tchemulpo  we  have  been 
more  than  generous.  We  left  them  free  to  depart ; 
more — we  allowed  seventy-eight  of  them  to  enlist 


94  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

in  the  volunteer  corps  for  the  care  of  the  wounded 
which  was  organized  by  our  compatriots  of 
Tchemulpo.  And  Russia  repays  us  with  these 
acts  of  horror.  But  Japan  will  none  the  less 
absolutely  spurn  any  idea  of  reprisals.  She  would 
disdain  to  subject  non-combatants  to  such  shameful 
treatment." 

The  Europeans  here  are,  generally  speaking, 
united  in  their  condemnation  of  this  scarcely  gallant 
operation  of  war. 

Togo  is  the  name  on  all  lips,  and  a  legend  is  fast 
crystallizing  around  it.  "  Togo " — a  Japanese 
friend  told  me — "  is  completely  a  hero.  You 
remember  what  he  did  during  the  war  with  China  ? 
He  fired  on  his  own  men !  The  Japanese  admiral 
was  hesitating  and  the  Chinese  frankly  did  not  want 
to  fight.  Togo  fired — and  every  one  believed  it 
to  be  the  Chinese,  and  the  battle  was  on."  Every 
one  cites  Togo's  remarks.  His  appointment  as 
admiral  was  brought  to  him  when  he  was  ill  in  bed. 
He  instantly  rose.  "  As  soon  as  my  foot  touches 
deck,  I  shall  be  cured."  When  the  fleet  sailed, 
a  friend  asked  what  message  he  should  convey  to 
the  admiral's  wife.  "  Nothing,  except  that  I  forbid 
her  to  send  me  any  news  of  herself."  An  attitude 
sufficiently  Roman,  but  scarcely  to  Occidental  taste. 
In  his  first  battle,  when  he  was  told  how  badly  the 
enemy  ships  were  damaged,  his  laconic  comment 
was :  "  We  will  mend  them." 

There  is  instanced  a  different  kind  of  Roman 
streak  in  another  Japanese.  Just  as  he  left  for  the 
war  he  divorced  his  wife.  It  is  a  matter  easily 
accomplished  here ;  but  he  was  recently  married 
and  the  couple  had  been  extremely  devoted.  His 
sole  reason  for  the  action  was  that  as  he  had  neither 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  95 

father  nor  mother,  brother  nor  sister,  he  wished  to 
dedicate  himself  entirely  to  the  service  of  his 
country ;  and  he  did  not  expect  to  return  from  the 
war  alive.  His  will  bequeathed  everything  to  the 
State.  The  wife  submitted  without  flinching ; 
one  wonders  which  of  the  two  made  the  more  vital 
sacrifice. 

i^tb  February  ;  Sunday.  To-day  I  have  been  to 
the  Greek  church.  The  Russian  Cathedral  is  by 
far  the  largest  Christian  church  in  Tokyo,  and  it 
dominates  several  quarters  of  the  city.  If  Tokyo 
were  not  so  many  worlds  from  Paris,  one  could 
compare  its  position  to  that  of  the  Sacre-Cceur. 
It  stands  as  a  mute  witness  of  the  tolerance  of  the 
Japanese  and  the  energy  of  a  single  individual. 

To  my  rickshaw  man  it  is  only  necessary  to  say 
"  Nicolai,"  in  order  to  have  him  understand  my 
destination.  The  Russian  church  and  the  Russian 
faith  are  equally  called  by  this  name  in  Tokyo.  In 
twenty-three  years  the  bishop,  Nicolai,  who  has 
never  been  able  to  accustom  himself  to  the  co- 
operation of  any  Russian  auxiliary,  has  created  the 
entire  colony  of  churches,  pastors  and  flocks.  He 
has  converted  by  his  own  personal  effort  more  than 
all  the  united  Catholic  missionaries,  and  he  had  not 
the  advantage  of  building,  as  they  did,  on  the 
foundations  laid  amongst  the  old  Christians  of 
Nagasaki.  His  proselytism  has  taken  place  against 
the  grain  of  the  most  unfavourable  conditions,  for 
the  inimical  attitude  of  the  Japanese  to  the  Russians 
is  a  rooted  one. 

In  the  enclosure  of  the  iconostasis  I  could  not 
discern  the  white  beard  of  the  bishop.  A  Japanese 
pope  was  officiating,  in  his  heavy  cope.  One  or 
two  hundred  Japanese,  men  and  women,  were 


96  JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 

grouped  about,  all  the  rigidity  of  their  silence 
seeming  to  hang  on  the  priest  and  the  flaming  icons. 

I  heard  that  yesterday  Nicolai  called  together  the 
most  prominent  amongst  his  parishioners.  His 
statement  to  them  was  the  essence  of  simplicity. 
He  had  been  unable  to  decide,  he  said,  to  separate 
himself  from  them  and  he  would  leave  Japan  only 
at  their  own  desire.  But  he  was  a  subject  of  the 
Tsar,  and  he  would  pray  as  faithfully  for  his  Emperor 
as  they  would  pray  for  the  Japanese  country.  If 
they  had  news  of  a  Japanese  victory,  it  would  be 
only  fitting — since  God  required  of  them  both 
patriotism  and  loyalty — that  they  should  celebrate 
their  thanksgiving  in  their  church.  He  left  the 
issue  to  a  just  Heaven,  which  would  judge  the  cause 
and  permit  those  who  deserved  it  to  conquer. 

There  must  have  been  a  strange  contradiction  in 
the  thoughts  of  this  gathering,  and  they  must  have 
had  a  latent  sense  of  the  contradiction  in  a  war 
which  opposed  their  spiritual  chief  to  their  legiti- 
mate ruler,  the  thousand-year-old  incarnation  of 
their  country  to  the  man  who  represents  for  them 
the  vicar  of  Christ.  One's  thoughts  travelled  to 
the  other  little  Christian  communities,  of  diverse 
names,  scattered  throughout  Japan.  It  makes  the 
situation  more  touching  that  the  converts  have  still 
all  the  first  warmth  of  the  apostolic  fervour ;  they  have 
not  yet  hardened  themselves  to  the  habit  of  invoking 
Sabaoth  and  singing  ^e  Deum  after  a  massacre. 

The  Japanese  have  claimed  the  faculty  to  trans- 
form and  refine  whatever  they  borrow  from  other 
races.  They  have  made  of  Buddhism,  and  particu- 
larly of  the  Zen  sect,  a  religion  of  happiness  and 
activity  and  of  an  equable  attitude  of  soul,  and  they 
have  recognized  and  nourished  in  Confucianism  a 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  97 

doctrine  of  spiritual  honour  as  sensitive  as  the 
Castilian.  One  wonders  what  their  quick  artisan- 
ship  will  make  of  Christianity,  which  as  far  back  as 
the  sixteenth  century  inspired  in  them  a  new  thirst 
for  social  justice  and  a  fierce  desire  for  martyrdom. 

There  appeared  to-day,  in  an  English  paper,  some 
reflections  on  the  war  by  M.  Uchimura,  a  Japanese 
Christian.  He  cannot  reconcile  himself  to  the  fact 
that  nations  which  call  themselves  Christian  should 
not  treat  each  other  as  they  themselves  would  be 
treated,  and  he  attributes  to  this  falsity  of  individual- 
istic pride  the  unapproachable  attitude  of  Russia 
pending  the  negotiations.  The  war,  he  says,  cannot 
terminate  without  Christians  recognizing  that  a  single 
law  exists  for  humanity  at  large,  that  respect  is  due 
to  man  as  man,  and  that  it  is  a  fundamental  failure 
to  ignore  this  precept.  He  attributes  the  outbreak 
of  the  conflict  to  the  false  patriotism  of  both 
Russians  and  Japanese.  "  Are  the  Russian  and 
Japanese  Chauvinists  alone  responsible  ?  Certainly 
not.  There  are  English,  American  and  French 
Chauvinists,  who,  detecting  advantages  to  themselves 
in  a  quarrel,  are  only  too  glad  to  see  two  neigh- 
bouring peoples  leap  at  each  other's  throats.  What 
they  term  their  sympathy  for  Japan  or  their  sympathy 
for  Russia  is  in  reality  only  the  product  of  their 
egoism,  and  the  ineffaceable  stigma  of  their  religion. 
There  is  nothing  more  worthy  of  contumely  than 
such  patriots  who  name  themselves  Christians  and 
who,  to  secure  an  open  market  for  their  produce, 
encourage  other  nations  to  resort  to  arms." 

For  his  own  part,  he  frankly  deplores  the  war. 

He  cites  in  a  favourable  sense  the  French  proverb  : 

"  Scratch  the  Russian  and  you  will  find  a  Tartar." 

"  Are    not    Russians    half-Oriental,    and    are    not 

H 


98  JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 

Japanese  half-Occidental  ?  Are  their  respective 
missions  in  Asia  not  complementary  rather  than 
contradictory  ?  Have  peoples  destined  to  a  high 
collaboration  the  right  to  make  war  on  each  other  ? 
Nothing  is  of  a  more  frequent  occurrence  than 
friction  between  brothers  and  friends ;  the  present 
conflict  is  an  additional  instance,  and  we  can  only 
pray  that  such  a  deplorable  misunderstanding  will  be 
shortly  terminated." 

In  countless  ways  one  can  trace,  in  this  country, 
the  germs  of  a  reconciliation  with  Russia. 

i$th  February.  The  actor  Kawakami,  well  known 
by  Parisians  as  the  Antoine  of  Japan,  and  the  husband 
of  Sada  Yakko,  has  gone  to  the  front  with  all  his 
troupe  and  with  Sada  Yakko  herself  ;  not  as  a  soldier, 
but  as  an  artist  who  wishes  to  make  certain  studies 
from  nature.  They  are  going  to  witness  a  drama 
which  they  themselves  will  reproduce  later.  Mean- 
while, they  will  act  their  heroic  plays  for  the  soldiers 
and  will  install  in  the  front  lines  their  mirrors  and 
their  rouge-pots. 

The  time  is  opportune  for  the  infusion  of  a  new 
life  into  theatric  art.  A  theatre  at  Yokohama  has 
already  announced  a  performance  of  "  The  Battle 
of  Port  Arthur."  The  play  had  been  written  before 
the  action ;  one  feels  as  if  this  were  imagination 
pushed  too  far. 

Since  his  disillusions  in  the  political  world, 
Kawakami  has  devoted  himself  to  the  reform  of  the 
heroic  theatre.  In  the  future  this  will  necessarily 
also  be  the  realistic  theatre.  Last  year  the  troupe 
played  "  Othello,"  with  Othello  as  a  Japanese 
officer  and  the  scene  set  in  Formosa. 

A  pickpocket  slipped  amongst  those  of  his  com- 
patriots who  entertained  Kawakami  at  Osaka 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  99 

stole  the  actor's  watch.  It  appears  that  this  was  a 
present  made  to  him  by  the  Tsar,  during  his  Russian 
tour.  Kawakami  announced  this  fact  to  the  press 
and  that  he  was  glad  to  be  relieved  of  such  a  souvenir. 
The  people  of  Osaka  state  that  the  following  day  a 
small  parcel  was  left  at  the  actor's  house  and  that  the 
thief,  having  seen  the  imperial  crest  on  the  watch, 
returned  it  with  contempt. 

The  reality  of  the  war  is  now  perceptible.  At 
every  step  one  meets  the  little  carts  which  serve  as 
furniture-vans.  Two  or  three  coverings,  a  tiny 
wardrobe,  a  lamp,  a  brazier,  a  clock ;  this  is  all. 
Japanese  life  is  lived  without  furniture.  Once  the 
head  of  the  household  is  gone,  his  family  looks  for  a 
more  modest  dwelling-place.  I  fell  into  talk  with  a 
woman.  She  carried  a  baby  on  her  back  and  led 
two  little  girls  by  the  hand ;  and  on  the  shoulders 
of  the  older  another  little  head  nodded.  She  and 
her  husband,  who  is  a  maker  of  tiles,  had  gone  as 
colonists  to  the  Hokkaido.  They  met  with  poor 
luck,  and  returned  to  Tokyo  ;  now  that  her  husband 
is  summoned  to  the  ranks,  the  woman  scarcely  knows 
how  to  live.  Some  one  has  been  found  to  take 
charge  of  her  mother-in-law.  She  herself  plans  to 
get  her  bread  by  making  match-boxes,  and  the  old 
woman  will  earn  a  pittance  by  playing  the  guitar 
in  the  streets.  There  seems  to  be  no  pressure  of 
anxiety  in  their  minds ;  indeed,  the  solidarity  of  the 
poorer  people  is  one  of  the  most  impressive  traits  of 
Japanese  life.  In  all  quarters  of  the  city  there  have 
been  formed  societies  to  care  for  the  families  of 
soldiers.  The  subscriptions  to  some  of  these  already 
amount  to  four  or  five  million  yen.  Ten  yen  are 
paid  to  a  family  for  its  installation  in  a  new  home,  and 
in  addition  four  yen  for  each  person  above  fifteen 


ioo  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

and  two  yen  for  each  child ;  and  in  addition  to  this 
there  is  a  service  of  constant  kindness  and  politeness. 

The  patriotism  of  the  poorest  is  the  most  fervent 
of  all.  I  saw  an  old  woman  bring  into  the  cabin 
which  serves  as  a  police  station  two  hundred  yen 
as  an  offering  to  the  government.  She  explained 
to  the  sergeant  that  this  represented  her  savings  for 
her  old  age,  but  that  her  days  of  infirmity  were  not 
worth  so  much  consideration.  Economy,  too,  can 
scarcely  be  said  to  be  one  of  the  Japanese  virtues. 
It  is  astonishing  that  malefactors,  with  no  apparent 
possessions,  can  give  a  hundred  yen.  A  special 
office  to  receive  these  contributions  has  been  opened 
at  the  War  Office.  More  than  two  millions  have 
already  been  deposited  there,  in  great  part  in 
donations  from  the  very  poor.  Those  who  have  no 
money  bring  their  mattresses  and  all  they  possess 
for  the  use  of  the  military.  Others  have  only  their 
services  to  give.  The  rickshaw  men  carry  the 
soldiers  without  charge ;  the  men  and  women 
workers  in  a  great  oil  refinery  have  united  in  the 
decision  to  work  an  additional  hour  each  day  and 
to  give  the  extra  pay  they  receive  to  the  State. 
The  most  striking  fact  of  all  is  the  simplicity  and 
inevitability  with  which  every  Japanese  fulfils  his 
conception  of  duty. 

Strangers  arouse  little  resentment ;  at  Kobe,  one 
hears,  there  is  some  hostility  to  the  foreigner,  but 
here  there  is  definitely  apparent  an  attitude  of 
kindness.  The  foreigners,  on  their  side,  have 
contributed  to  the  various  war  works,  and  some  have 
offered  to  lodge  soldiers.  An  obscure  community 
of  sentiment  has  arisen  as  a  result  of  the  stir  of  the 
times.  Japanese  life  and  thought  have  a  social 
intimacy  which  are  conducive  to  such  sympathy 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  101 

and  there  is  no  country  where  opinion  and  enthusiasm 
blend  more  freely. 

Two  typical  personages  fill  the  pages  of  the 
popular  gazette  :  a  hero  of  the  war  with  China  and 
a  Russian  spy.  The  first  is  famous  for  having 
dynamited  a  fort  or  saved  a  gun.  He  is  to-day  in 
the  territorials,  and  he  fills  the  recruiting  offices 
with  his  clamorous  advice  to  the  enlisted  men  to 
insist  that  they  shall  be  sent  to  the  front  at  once.  In 
view  of  his  popularity,  the  administration  has  to 
appease  his  ardour  with  promises  of  immediate 
action  ;  and  while  he  waits  for  his  orders,  his  friends 
offer  him  sake  and  listen  once  again  to  the  tale  of 
his  exploits.  The  Russian  spy  is  a  Japanese  of 
unprepossessing  demeanour ;  whenever  the  sus- 
picions concerning  him  take  precise  form,  he  is 
expelled  from  his  quarter  of  the  town  and  his 
neighbours  take  upon  themselves  the  maintenance 
of  his  family. 

1 6th  February.  We  have  heard  that  on  the  night 
of  the  1 4th  two  Japanese  torpedo  boats,  in  a  whirl- 
wind of  snow,  penetrated  to  the  entrance  to  Port 
Arthur.  They  torpedoed  two  vessels,  were  dis- 
covered, made  good  their  escape,  and  came  back 
safe  and  whole. 

This  kind  of  audacity  is  sympathetic  to  the 
Japanese  temperament.  They  are  proud  to  cite 
the  fact  that  the  captain  who  commanded  the 
principal  torpedo  boat  is  already  famous  for  his 
taciturnity  and  his  temerity.  On  the  8th  of 
February  he  reconnoitred  the  waters  at  Dalny,  to 
search  out  the  Russian  fleet,  and  sailed  up  almost  to 
the  edge  of  the  quay. 

The  Emperor  has  set  the  note  of  sacrifice  for  the 
greatest  families  in  the  kingdom  by  depositing  in 


102  JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 

the  Bank  of  Japan  his  collection  of  coins  and  medals. 
He  is  leaving  Tokyo  and  will  take  up  his  residence  at 
Kyoto — "  To  change  the  action  of  spirits,"  as  a 
Japanese  said  to  me.  This  is  a  recognition  of  the 
subtle  mystic  ritual  which  this  people  so  closely 
observes.  Like  the  families  of  his  soldiers,  the 
Emperor  will  reduce  his  style  of  living  and  disavow 
all  luxury.  During  the  war  with  China  he  lived 
in  a  cottage  at  Hiroshima. 

He  will  have  no  part  in  tactical  operations  or  in 
the  direction  of  his  armies.  He  is  essentially  a 
statesman,  whose  eminent  qualities  are  discretion, 
tact  and  good  sense,  and  he  is  entirely  willing  that 
his  subjects  should  freely  question  his  capacities  as  a 
commander.  At  the  last  manoeuvres,  an  official 
report  frankly  criticized  those  operations  which  he 
conducted. 

ijtb  February.  The  annual  festival  of  the  fall 
of  the  first  snow.  During  the  night  the  flakes  were 
heavy  and  thick,  but  they  are  dissolving  before  the 
power  of  a  brilliant  sun.  The  popular  mind  sees  in 
this  an  image  of  the  dissolution  of  white  Russia's 
strength  before  the  flag  with  the  red  orb.  From 
the  heights  of  Atagoyama,  crowds  have  been  watch- 
ing the  fragile  grace  of  the  country  shining  under 
its  white  veils ;  the  more  fortunate  have  chanced 
to  surprise  the  miracle  of  February — a  flowering 
plum  branch  beneath  the  snow,  or  a  nightingale 
stirring  into  flight  with  the  tip  of  its  wing  a  flake  as 
perfect  as  a  petal. 

iSth  February.  The  popular  journals  publish 
daily  caricatures  which  can  scarcely  be  called 
artistic.  Japan  has  no  longer  a  Kyosai.  Some  of 
the  drawings  are  alive,  however,  with  the  vivid 
Japanese  spirit. 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  103 

The  yose  are  the  little  public  rooms  where  people 
gather,  each  evening,  to  sit  about  on  mats,  sip  their 
tea,  and  listen  to  the  most  popular  reciters.  The 
speaker  kneels  on  a  raised  platform.  He  makes  at 
the  outset  his  profound  salutation,  crouched  like  a 
frog  and  leaning  on  his  outspread  palms.  The 
movement  of  the  tale  he  tells  flows  to  the  ceaseless 
movement  of  his  fan.  There  are  both  serious  and 
comic  speakers,  but  all  have  an  admirable  art  of 
mimicry.  They  weave  for  the  audience  a  fabric  of 
brilliant  diversity,  history  flavoured  with  tart 
personalities,  old  tales,  romances  whose  rich  re- 
dundancies spread  over  the  course  of  several  even- 
ings, accounts  of  travel  accented  with  the  oddity  of 
burlesque,  stories  full  of  a  sly  suggestiveness  or  of  the 
gaiety  of  impossible  exaggeration,  and  embroideries 
of  comment  on  the  happenings  of  the  day. 

To-night  the  Amanosetsu  who  fought  in  the  war 
with  China  told  with  an  easy  art  an  episode  of  that 
war.  At  the  end  of  the  silence  which  followed 
his  final  bow  he  announced,  in  another  tone,  that 
he  was  about  to  leave  for  the  present  front,  in  order 
to  bring  back  impressions  of  it  to  his  faithful  public. 
There  was  a  flattering  murmur  and  one  foresaw 
that  the  laurels  of  Kawakami  would  be  divided. 

iqtb  February.  The  sailors  of  the  English  and 
Italian  warships  which  have  just  arrived  have  had 
the  most  cordial  of  receptions.  For  the  first  time 
I  saw  Tokyo  swayed  by  a  popular  demonstration. 
One's  thoughts  went  back  to  a  reception  of  Russian 
sailors  in  Paris,  eleven  years  ago ;  except  that,  since 
the  kiss  is  unknown  as  a  salutation  in  Japan,  the 
mousmes  did  not  show  the  same  gaiety  of  enthusiasm 
as  the  French  girls  did  in  greeting  the  sailors.  The 
Japanese  people  are  at  one  of  those  periods  of  crisis 


104  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

where  they  feel  the  need  to  express  affection. 
Every  stranger  was  hailed  with  the  cry  of  "  Banzai  ! 
banzai  !  "  and  all  were  taken  for  English  or  Italians 
indiscriminately.  The  smallest  shopkeeper  has  hung 
out  his  flags  in  their  honour. 

An  essentially  Japanese  spectacle  was  arranged  for 
the  visitors  in  the  park  of  Hibiya.  This  was  a 
wrestling  match,  of  no  ordinary  character.  The 
champions  of  the  East  and  the  West,  Hitachi-Yama 
and  Megatani,  gave  such  an  exhibition  as  one 
ordinarily  sees  only  once  a  year.  They  looked  more 
than  ever  monstrous,  as  they  stood  naked  side  by 
side,  and  seemed  more  than  ever  an  enigma  amongst 
the  delicate  Japanese.  Megatani  was  a  mountain  of 
reddish  flesh,  with  a  face  scarcely  human  ;  Hitachi- 
Yama,  hardly  less  inhuman,  his  skin  blotched  and 
his  eyes  bloodshot.  Before  the  match  they  stood 
tensely  bowed  over  each  other,  in  a  motionless 
salute,  and  when,  at  the  signal,  the  gigantic  strain 
of  effort  began,  their  breath  came  with  sharp  sound 
of  whistles.  Megatani,  by  his  actual  immensity  of 
weight,  conquered  his  adversary ;  and  one  felt  that 
the  sailor  lads  crouched  in  the  front  lines  had  taken 
away  with  them  a  singularly  brutal  vision  of  so  fine 
a  race. 

In  the  splendid  evening  sky  there  are  flashing  the 
fireworks  which,  as  they  burst  into  stars,  scatter  on 
Tokyo  the  flags  of  three  nations.  The  crowd  is  so 
closely  packed  that  it  flows  with  the  smooth  move- 
ment of  water.  When  a  petard  falls  in  its  midst, 
the  people  neither  flinch  nor  cry  out,  and  the  smoke 
of  the  powder  rises  harmlessly  above  their  heads. 
This  mastery  of  the  nerves,  at  even  the  unimportant 
moments,  stands  out  as  an  essential  quality  of  the 
Japanese. 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  105 

2otb  February.  The  Emperor  has  received  the 
first  trophy — a  Russian  flag  from  the  Varyag^ 
captured  at  Tchemulpo,  and  the  fruit  of  a  scarcely 
glorious  action.  It  has  been  given  to  the  Military 
Museum,  and  to-day  it  is  hung  at  the  great  door, 
in  view  of  all  the  city.  The  crowd  passes,  as  serious 
and  as  perfect  in  deportment  as  usual,  in  spite  of 
its  ardour.  Every  one  pauses  to  read  the  inscription 
and  to  comment  politely,  wanders  for  a  moment 
into  the  park,  and  then  gravely  returns  to  admire 
the  blue  cross  of  St.  Andrew  on  a  white  ground  and 
the  holes  torn  by  the  explosion  of  the  Varyag. 

In  the  park  itself,  and  beneath  the  cherry-trees 
where  the  idle  divert  themselves,  the  air  has  already 
the  melodious  suavity  of  spring.  The  vendors  are 
peddling  their  tempting  delicacies  —  tiny  cakes 
moulded  by  hand  and  sea-weeds  of  all  colours, 
clinging  to  scraps  of  rock.  Every  now  and  then  a 
man  approaches  the  temple  sacred  to  the  memory 
of  fallen  soldiers  and  bends  his  head  in  a  brief 
prayer.  Here  and  there  is  the  bright  red  of  the 
imperial  guard,  which  has  imitated  the  French  red 
trousers.  On  the  platform  reserved  for  women  who 
have  taken  religious  vows,  a  priest  dressed  in  white  is 
striking,  in  a  grotesque  rhythm,  a  painted  drum,  to 
the  delight  of  an  audience  of  children.  A  sense  of 
the  perpetual  exclusion  of  the  foreigner  comes  over 
one  once  more  :  is  this  a  vulgarized  liturgy,  or  a 
cheap  show  raised  to  the  rank  of  a  ritual  ? 

21  st  February.  There  is  a  story  current  that  at 
Tchemulpo  a  Japanese  torpedo  boat  has  been 
penetrated  by  shot ;  but  no  paper  mentions  it. 
It  appears  that  the  funnel  was  pierced  and  that 
during  the  night  the  Japanese  sawed  it  off. 

22nd  February.    M.  Inoue  Tetsujiro,  the  doyen 


106  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

of  the  Faculty  of  Letters,  is  at  once  a  scientist,  a 
philosopher  and  the  founder  of  a  new  form  of 
religion.  He  has  studied  in  Paris  with  Jules  Simon, 
Vacherot,  Caro,  Ravaisson  and  Paul  Janet.  He  is 
no  less  conversant  with  the  minds  of  contemporary 
philosophers  in  Germany,  England  and  the  United 
States,  and  in  this  country  which  is  in  reality  a  vast 
library  he  is  noted  as  the  man  whose  reading  has 
been  the  most  extensive  and  the  most  diverse.  One 
would  define  him  as  one  of  the  authorized  exponents 
of  Japanese  thought.  Against  the  walls  of  the  vast 
room  where  he  received  me  there  were  piled  stacks 
of  thin  Japanese  volumes,  and  ranged  amongst  them 
the  heavy  bindings  of  the  West.  The  chief  furnish- 
ing of  the  room  was  a  long  table  on  trestles,  and  the 
air  was  full  of  the  charm  of  the  austerity  of  erudition. 
In  spite  of  his  doctoral  frock  coat,  M.  Inoue  is  as 
instinct  with  vitality  as  a  hawk.  He  was  entirely 
willing  to  talk  of  the  war.  It  would  be,  he  averred, 
a  great  moral  lesson,  and  first  of  all  for  Russia. 
Russia  had  violated  a  solemn  pact  to  which  she  had 
freely  consented.  She  would  have  to  learn,  and  to 
her  cost,  that  good  faith  is  obligatory  even  in  dealing 
with  the  nations  of  Far  Asia. 

I  ventured  to  suggest  that  this  seemed  scarcely  to 
dispose  of  the  present  instance.  But  he  took  me  up  : 

"  But  this  is  an  instance  of  international  morality. 
If  a  contract  is  violated  to  the  hurt  of  one  race,  it 
is  violated  to  the  hurt  of  all.  This  war  may  have 
superficial  causes  of  superficial  interests,  but  it  is 
based  on  a  clear  case  of  justice  and  injustice.  Japan 
has  it  keenly  on  her  conscience  that  she  is  protecting 
international  right.  For  us,  too,  the  war  will  be  a 
lesson  in  political  morality.  If  we  are  victorious, 
as  we  hope,  it  will  be  because  of  the  vital  force  of 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  107 

our  liberal  institutions.  We  owe  more  to  the 
propulsive  power  of  their  ideas  than  to  our  armies. 
The  thesis  of  the  military  order  defends,  as  a  rule, 
an  absolutism  of  power  ;  we  know,  on  the  contrary, 
that  only  a  principle  of  liberty  can  create  the 
conscious  unanimity  of  a  nation.  Because  our 
opinions  circulate  as  freely  as  air,  we  have  no  internal 
revolt  to  fear.  In  1894  the  Chinese  Minister 
informed  his  government  that,  since  Japan  was  torn 
by  parliamentary  dissensions,  it  was  the  propitious 
moment  for  an  attack.  The  futility  of  his  conclu- 
sion was  proven.  The  spirit  of  the  entire  country 
rose  in  a  flame  such  as  even  our  ancient  shoguns 
never  saw.  To-day  it  is  the  same.  Thanks  to  our 
recognition  of  liberty — and  eliminating  a  very 
restricted  group  of  neo-Christians  and  socialists — 
the  same  unanimity  exists  at  present.  Liberty  is 
with  us " — M.  Inoue  made  the  allusion  to  the 
"  Marseillaise  "  with  a  smile — "  and  she  will  fight 
with  her  defenders." 

"  But  if  Japan  vanquishes  a  European  power, 
will  she  be  as  likely  to  wish  to  draw  her  inspiration 
from  Europe  ?  " 

"  Unfailingly  so.  Neither  our  religions  nor  our 
traditional  doctrines  can  throw  up  a  barrier  against 
progress.  Our  Shintoism  is  too  summary,  our 
Buddhism  is  fading  into  superstition,  our  Con- 
fucianism is  incompatible  with  a  liberal  regime. 
We  do  not  need  Europe's  Christianity,  but  we  do 
need  her  scientific  methods  and  the  new  social  ideal 
which  she  is  elaborating." 

And  the  professor,  arrived  at  last  at  his  favourite 
thesis,  wandered  delightfully  into  an  exposition  of 
the  future  religion  of  humanity. 

26th  February.      A  day  of  false  rumours.     An 


108  JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 

official  Russian  despatch  announces  that  four 
Japanese  armoured  cruisers  and  two  transports  have 
been  destroyed  at  Port  Arthur.  I  strolled  through 
the  principal  streets  to  see  the  impression  which 
this  announcement  of  disaster  had  produced.  The 
gogai,  without  commentary,  was  posted  on  the  shop 
doors  and  on  the  telegraph  poles.  The  passers-by 
read  it  with  no  break  in  the  surface  of  their  habitual 
serenity,  and  with  their  perpetual  smile.  Is  it  that 
they  totally  lack  the  sensitiveness  of  nerves,  or  that 
they  have  a  self-confidence  which  is  impregnable  ? 

At  eight  in  the  evening  there  arrived  a  corrected 
version  of  the  story.  Five  transports,  in  imitation 
of  the  Merrimac  which  was  sunk  to  block  the  Gulf 
of  Santiago,  sank  themselves,  or  were  sunk,  in  an 
attempt  to  block  the  approach  to  Port  Arthur, 
which  the  Japanese  squadron  has  bombarded.  This 
gogai  is  posted  above  that  of  this  morning ;  and, 
as  this  morning,  the  people  read  it  calmly,  without 
any  manifest  feeling,  and  with  the  same  eternal 
quality  in  their  smile. 

Seventy-seven  men  were  called  for  to  navigate 
the  ships  to  be  sunk  and  the  torpedo  boats  charged 
with  the  work  of  rescue.  More  than  two  thousand 
volunteered,  and  one  deliberately  cut  his  finger 
and  wrote  the  application  with  his  blood. 

2jth  February.  The  benevolent  society  of  my 
neighbourhood  has  posted  the  following  notice  : 

1.  This  will  be  the  longest  war  Japan  has  ever 
known.     It  is,  therefore,  essential  that  every  possible 
economy  shall  be  practised. 

2.  No    matter    how    many    successive    Japanese 
victories  are  announced,  do  not  permit  yourself  any 
rejoicing.     There  will  be  no  veritable  victory  until 
the  war  is  won. 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  109 

3.  Except  for  war  expenses,  deprive  yourselves  of 
everything. 

4.  No  houses  should  be  built  and  there  should 
be  no  money  spent  on  marriages,  funerals  or  other 
ceremonies. 

5.  If  a  contagious  malady  should  appear,  it  would 
require  a  heavy  cost  to  arrest  its  progress ;   it  is, 
therefore,  essential  that  every  one  shall  take  the 
requisite  care  of  his  health. 

2yth  February.  The  prints  of  war  subjects  are 
making  the  shop  windows  brilliant.  About  a 
hundred  have  already  been  published.  On  the 
tossed  violet  of  waves  a  burning  ship  smoulders, 
and  in  the  long  rose  streak  of  its  reflection  a  black 
torpedo  boat  slinks  away.  Another  shows  a  blind- 
ing snow,  composed  of  particles  of  shattered  plaster, 
and  a  group  of  blue  blouses  crowding  about  a 
cannon ;  the  faces  grimace  in  their  excitement  and 
in  the  background,  in  a  pale  vermilion  light,  a  boat 
is  on  fire.  The  theme  of  the  imaginative  treat- 
ment of  a  naval  combat  is  varied  in  countless  ways. 

The  crowds  gather  before  these  prints  and 
examine  them  in  a  silence  of  concentration.  The 
artists  fulfil  the  part  of  educators.  One  of  the 
newspapers  has  complained  that  the  depiction  is 
too  flattering  to  the  Japanese,  and  demands  a  more 
realistic  respect  of  truth. 

.ist  March.  The  new  war  romances  have  ap- 
peared, in  their  bright  bindings.  They  arrest  the 
eye  literally  at  every  step,  for  there  are  more  book- 
shops in  a  Tokyo  street  than  in  the  length  and 
breadth  of  Spain.  The  titles  are  displayed  every- 
where :  "  In  the  Mists  of  Tchemulpo,"  "  Let  us 
die  for  our  Country,"  "  The  Old  Officer,"  "  The 
Offering  to  the  Dead,"  "  The  House  of  Admiral 


i  io  JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 

Yamanaka."  These  stories  appear  in  instalments, 
and  the  plots  will  be  modified  according  to  the 
course  of  events.  Some  publishers  have  their  cor- 
respondents with  the  armies  at  the  front.  One 
sees  the  war  legend  develop,  in  all  the  fire  and  heat 
of  actuality. 

2nd  March.  It  is  the  culminating  moment  of 
the  exquisiteness  of  the  plum-trees.  A  group  of 
poets  and  enthusiasts  scatters  like  flowers  in  the 
orchards  of  Kameido.  This  year  the  appreciation 
of  the  beauty  of  blossoms  and  scents  is  heightened 
by  the  pride  of  civic  emotion.  The  fervent  de- 
votees are  more  numerous,  and  they  tell  me  that 
the  movable  tea  equipages  have  rented  twice  as 
dearly  as  last  year. 

Wrinkled  old  men,  with  wisdom  in  their  seared 
faces,  and  floating  geishas  are  seated  side  by  side 
on  the  gold-coloured  mats.  Since  all  the  young 
men  are  at  the  war,  the  looks  of  tenderness  from 
the  women's  dark  eyes  rise  and  lose  themselves  in 
the  clouds.  One  fancies  that  this  surplus  of  feeling 
without  direction  saturates  the  delicate  air  and 
lingers  in  the  intoxicating  spring  odour. 

In  a  frame  of  dark  surrounding  pines  are  crouched 
a  knot  of  bent,  worm-eaten  plum-trees,  shining  in 
their  brief  radiance.  They  are  broken  and  blackened, 
and  crutches  have  been  arranged  to  support  their 
infirmity.  But  all  the  length  of  their  old  inter- 
twined arms  the  white  flowers  ripple,  so  that  the 
dark  branches  seem  saturated  in  a  sparkling  mist. 
Each  tree  has  its  degrees  of  whiteness,  from  snow  to 
ivory,  and  the  clinging  scent  which  they  breathe 
out  impregnates  one's  clothes. 

Some  strange  incongruity  struck  me  in  a  geisha 
with  a  magnificent  sash  :  suddenly  I  realized  that 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  in 

she  wore  her  hair  in  a  European  knot,  instead  of  in 
the  high  Japanese  fashion.  The  girl  with  whom 
she  talked  and  all  her  neighbours  did  the  same. 
On  inquiry  I  was  told  that  they  had  given  up  their 
usual  head-dress  as  too  costly,  and  that  the  economy 
thus  achieved  was  to  go  as  a  subscription  to  the 
war  fund.  There  was  something  peculiarly  poignant 
in  this  sacrifice  of  personal  beauty  for  the  love  of 
country. 

yd  March.  To-day  is  a  festival  consecrated  to 
little  girls.  The  tiny  mousmes  make  a  grave  effort 
at  sacrifice,  since  their  brothers  and  their  friends 
are  subjected  to  the  dangers  of  war.  They  have 
been  instructed  not  to  give  way  to  laughter.  Their 
dolls  must  wear  their  last  year's  dresses,  and  the 
contents  of  their  little  savings  banks  will  be  given 
to  the  Society  of  Nurses. 

At  the  top  of  three  elevations  of  red  lacquer,  on 
a  mat  bound  in  silk,  are  placed  images  of  the  Emperor 
and  Empress ;  a  little  lower,  a  prince  and  a  princess, 
and  lower  still  five  musicians.  Between  them 
stand  some  porcelain  jars,  some  plates  of  sweets 
and  a  minute  set  of  furniture.  Lanterns,  on  their 
slim,  tall  pedestals;  complete  the  decoration.  Two 
young  girls  advanced  with  a  slowly  measured  grace, 
carrying  flowering  branches,  while  the  little  children, 
in  their  sumptuous  dresses,  fixedly  watched  them, 
and  I  and  a  Japanese  friend,  crouched  in  a  corner, 
discussed  the  war  and  heated  our  fingers  over  the 
brazier.  Mademoiselle  Suzu,  the  eldest  daughter, 
was  directly  in  front  of  the  little  shrine.  She  made 
her  reverential  bow,  struck  her  hands  gently  to- 
gether and  began  her  prayer ;  the  altar  was  so  low 
that  she  had  to  kneel,  and  in  the  act  the  whiteness 
of  her  bare  leg  shone  underneath  her  robe. 


ii2  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

There  is  no  Japanese  family  so  poor  that  they 
have  not  to-day  celebrated,  before  these  clay  images, 
this  rite  which  is  immemorial. 

^th  March.  All  of  the  theatrical  spectacles  of 
Tokyo  are  based  on  the  war,  from  those  in  the 
important  theatres  to  those  in  the  rough  wooden 
booths  where  one  can  see  a  Russian  shot  for  a  penny. 
My  interpreter  recommended  to  me  a  certain 
popular  theatre  where,  as  he  said,  the  public  was 
as  dramatic  as  the  actors.  Huddled  in  our  little 
box,  we  found  ourselves  surrounded  by  voluble 
patriots,  who  gorged  themselves  plentifully,  and 
who,  in  the  intervals  of  their  noisy  laughter,  gulped 
down  their  sake  and  worked  up  their  enthusiasm 
to  excite  the  actors.  The  warmed  flagons  followed 
each  other  in  quick  succession,  as  their  contents 
disappeared  into  the  little  round  cups,  and  wand- 
like  sticks  were  used  to  eat  from  the  lacquer  boxes 
which  are  full  of  rice  and  fried  eels. 

There  is  no  attempt  to  present  a  consecutive 
story,  but  rather  a  review  which  represents  the 
various  daily  happenings  recorded  in  the  news- 
papers. I  was  particularly  struck  by  the  fact  that 
the  spectacle  turned  so  often  on  many  of  those 
instances  of  the  selective  action  of  conscience  which 
the  Japanese  so  like  to  discuss,  subtle  moralists  as 
they  are.  A  publisher  recently  announced  a  forth- 
coming treatise  on  casuistry,  as  inspired  by  the 
war  :  he  could  have  gathered  many  of  its  elements 
here. 

A  Japanese  woman  of  Manchuria,  for  instance,  is 
supposed  to  be  the  " femme  des  yeux"  or  mekake, 
of  a  Russian  officer.  She  explains  her  case  to  the 
audience ;  the  officer  has  showered  on  her  count- 
less kindnesses,  he  loves  her,  she  loves  him,  and  he 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  113 

has  every  confidence  in  her.  In  a  bureau  of  her 
house  there  are  certain  secret  maps  of  the  general 
staff ;  can  she,  and  should  she,  steal  them  ?  Does 
patriotism  nullify  the  personal  duties  ?  The 
audience  shouts  to  her  its  affirmation  :  she  opens 
the  bureau  and  flees  with  the  maps.  In  three  or 
four  other  scenes  spying  is  glorified  in  this  same 
manner ;  and  I  recollected,  as  I  watched  them,  a 
woman  who  was  asked,  some  months  since,  for  news 
of  her  son  and  who  responded,  with  a  simplicity  of 
pride  :  "  He  is  a  spy  in  Manchuria." 

Another  little  human  problem  was  represented 
by  the  meeting  of  two  soldiers.  The  one  accuses 
the  other  of  wearing  a  torn  and  soiled  shirt ;  the 
second  retorts  that  it  is  good  enough  to  attract  a 
Russian  ball.  This  reply  was  greeted  with  applause, 
but  more  still  follows.  The  first  speaker  reminds 
his  friend  that  after  a  battle  the  dead  are  rifled  and 
that  it  is  the  pride  of  a  Japanese  soldier  to  be  found 
with  clean  linen.  At  this  the  enthusiasm  was 
unbounded. 

Everyday  happenings  were  pictured,  naturally 
and  without  ornamentation,  without  too  accentu- 
ated an  imagination,  and  with  a  highly  picturesque 
realism.  At  the  call  of  the  reservists,  one  saw  a 
pedlar  of  boiled  vegetables  receive  his  marching 
orders  in  the  street.  He  dropped  the  two  wooden 
saws  he  carried  and  ran  to  the  barracks,  crying, 
"  Banzai !  "  The  prefect  of  police  approached, 
in  his  black  overcoat  and  his  white  gloves,  and 
asked  why  the  saws  had  been  left  to  obstruct  the 
street ;  and,  when  the  passers-by  explained  the 
matter,  he  picked  them  up  and  walked  off  balancing 
them  on  his  shoulder. 

In  a  neighbouring  house,  a  carpenter  who  was 
i 


ii4  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

going  off  was  grieved  to  leave  his  wife  at  the  point 
of  childbirth.  The  neighbours  all  assured  him  of 
their  care  of  her,  in  his  absence ;  but  when  the 
moment  of  departure  struck  the  woman  began  to 
feel  the  first  pains.  The  wildest  confusion  was 
represented ;  every  one  ran  here  and  there,  seeking 
for  the  grandfather,  the  grandmother  and  the  mid- 
wife. The  birth  of  the  child  was  supposed  to  take 
place  behind  a  partition  of  paper.  The  old  grand- 
father tremulously  hurried  to  bring  hot  water  and 
the  grandmother  livened  the  coals  of  the  fire  by 
blowing  on  them  through  a  pipe  and  exhaling  the 
smoke  through  her  nostrils.  The  detail  was  as 
fine  as  that  of  a  Dutch  picture.  All  the  populace 
of  the  street  is  gathered  at  the  door,  while  the 
poor  husband  drags  on  his  uniform  and  calls  out 
to  know  if  the  child  is  born ;  and  just  as  he  is  on 
the  doorstep  a  cry  comes  from  behind  the  screen 
and  the  grandfather  runs  out  to  him  with  the  tiny 
bundle  of  pink  flesh.  There  are  tears  and  laughter, 
and  all  the  audience  shouts :  "  Banzai  !  " 

Another  scene  showed  another  street  of  Tokyo 
and  a  lodging-house  for  soldiers.  Here  there 
passed  changing  pictures  of  every  form  of  Japanese 
life.  One  saw  children  playing  at  war ;  the  pur- 
veyor of  military  supplies,  who  made  his  rations  too 
scant ;  the  coolie  who  had  brought  a  soldier  in  his 
cart  and  who  refused  to  accept  a  fee ;  the  villager 
leading  his  horse  and  whispering  in  his  ear  so  that 
he  should  not  shy;  the  hero  of  the  Civil  War, 
bringing  to  his  son  the  family  sabre.  A  bonze  came 
to  offer  the  soldiers  medals  of  good  fortune ;  there 
was  a  gossipy  old  countrywoman,  searching  for  her 
son  without  knowing  where  he  lodged.  The  car- 
penter's wife  hurried  up  with  her  new-born  child, 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  115 

and  was  stopped  by  an  officer,  correct  and  cold  in 
manner ;  but  as  she  dropped  on  her  knees,  holding 
out  the  infant,  he  made  a  grimace  to  -wink  away  a 
tear,  took  the  child  and  let  her  pass. 

The  setting  then  changed  to  represent  the  in- 
terior of  the  house  and  the  common-room  of  the 
soldiers.  Seated  or  curled  up  on  the  floor,  they 
were  smoking  and  drinking,  chatting  or  drawing, 
while  the  sergeant  read  aloud  the  daily  papers. 
In  a  whining  voice  he  declaimed  the  Tsar's  declara- 
tion of  war,  interrupted  by  flashes  of  laughter  and 
by  quips,  most  of  which  flew  back  to  the  performers 
from  the  audience.  On  the  introduction  of  the 
word  "  God,"  every  one  rocked  with  amusement. 
Then  the  soldiers  rose  and  stood  in  line,  with  their 
heads  bent,  and  to  the  solemn  chant  of  the  No  the 
sergeant  recited  the  declaration  of  war  of  the 
Japanese  Emperor.  After  the  tensity  of  silence, 
all  the  spectators  burst  into  the  cry  of  "  Banzai !  " 
and  then  dissolved  again  into  gaiety.  A  soldier 
who  is  a  fishmonger  exhibited  the  knife  which  is 
the  weapon  of  his  trade  and  with  which  he  ex- 
pected to  cut  Russian  noses  and  ears.  Leaping 
from  one  end  of  the  stage  to  the  other,  he  made 
use  of  his  comrades  to  give  a  startling  demonstra- 
tion. The  laughter  had  a  sudden  sound  of  ferocity :  I 
wondered  into  what  wasp's  nest  I  had  thrust  myself. 
Then  the  tone  of  feeling  happily  changed.  A 
soldier  had  composed  a  poem,  and  he  sang  it  in  a 
voice  still  full  of  the  uncertainty  of  adolescence ; 
another  soldier  seized  a  fan  and  executed  a  war 
dance ;  and  the  audience  whispered  that  this  was 
a  real  reservist  and  that  the  uniform  which  the 
actor  wore  was  rightfully  his. 

The  remainder  of  the  spectacle  represented  the 


n6  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

naval  battle.  There  were  reproduced  the  episode 
of  the  soldier  whose  hand  was  torn  off  and  who 
picked  it  up,  and  of  the  officer  who,  mortally 
wounded,  refused  to  allow  his  boots  to  be  removed, 
so  that  he  might  be  ready  to  resume  his  post. 
The  scene  darkened  and  on  a  white  curtain  the 
cinema  flung  the  picture  of  the  half-sunk  Varyag. 
A  great  wave  flowed  over  the  wreckage,  and  the 
patriotic  intoxication  reached  its  height.  And,  as 
an  ending,  one  saw  the  dynamiting  of  a  tunnel  on 
the  Vladivostok  line,  which  was  this  morning's 
news  :  if  this  is  not  authenticated  to-day,  it  will 
perhaps  shortly  be  accomplished. 

$th  March.  The  Japanese  Socialists  deserve  some 
analysis.  With  three  or  four  neo-Christians,  they 
form  what  is  up  to  now  the  sole  group  frankly 
hostile  to  the  war.  The  excellent  notation  con- 
cerning them  in  the  bulletin  of  the  Ecole  d'Extreme- 
Orient,  edited  for  Japan  by  M.  Cl.-E.  Maitre, 
reports  that  the  socialistic  doctrine  was  imported, 
some  years  since,  from  San  Francisco.  It  was  at 
first  a  literary  and  philosophic  movement,  but  the 
organization  of  workmen's  syndicates  gave  it  a 
practical  base  of  action.  During  all  of  the  im- 
mediately preceding  year  (1903)  the  Socialists  have 
carried  on  active  propaganda  by  means  of  meetings 
and  of  publications,  and  there  has  been  ceaseless 
friction  between  them  and  the  police.  They  have 
sought  to  establish  international  socialistic  relations. 
In  Japan  they  have  the  co-operation  of  several 
influential  neo-Christians,  notably  Schimada  Saburo, 
the  deputy  from  Yokohama,  and  Takahashi  Goro, 
the  author  of  a  text -book  of  Socialism.  They  have 
their  Thomas  Morus  and  their  Bellamy,  in  the  person 
of  Yano  Fumio,  whose  Utopian  book,  The  New 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  117 

Society,  made  a  wide  stir ;  they  will  possibly 
find  their  Blanqui  in  Oi  Kentaro,  a  man  of  swift 
decisive  action,  who,  with  twenty  companions,  tried 
as  early  as  1885  to  instigate  revolution  in  Corea  and 
was  imprisoned  by  the  Japanese  government.  The 
principal  socialistic  leader  is  Katayama  Sen,  the 
author  of  two  books,  Municipal  Socialism  and  Our 
Socialism,  and  director  of  the  Socialistic  Review, 
Sbakwai  Sbugi. 

I  chanced  to  buy  the  last  issue  of  this  publication. 
Its  exposition  of  principles  is  intermixed,  as  one 
expects,  with  personal  polemics.  An  article  en- 
titled "  Reflections  on  the  War "  contends  that 
Japan  has  not  a  single  original  idea  to  disseminate 
throughout  the  world ;  that  neither  its  religion 
nor  its  morality,  nor  its  material  civilization,  are 
of  such  a  quality  that  they  are  worthy  to  be  im- 
posed by  force,  and  that  conquest  for  the  sake  of 
conquering  is  not  an  achievement.  The  present 
war  is  claimed  to  be  without  basic  justification  and 
without  the  inspiration  of  an  aim  :  "  The  Japanese, 
we  admit,  are  powerfully  developed  in  the  art  of 
war.  They  destroy  large  vessels  and  even  small 
ones.  They  are  exceedingly  brave.  All  Japan  has 
yielded  to  the  insidious  charm  of  victory.  If, 
however,  we  compare  the  Russians  and  the  Japanese, 
we  must  compute  not  only  their  relative  accomplish- 
ment in  the  military  art,  but  also  their  accomplish- 
ment in  scientific  and  general  fields.  One  cannot 
claim  that  Japan  is  great,  merely  because  of  the 
courage  of  her  army.  Some  higher  quality  than 
this  must  exist  to  assure  a  domination  of  the  world. 
This  quality  might  well  be  religion ;  but  the 
Japanese  religion  is  decayed  and  practically  dead. 
It  might  also  be  an  economic  system;  but,  while 


ii8  JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 

progressive  industrial  men  should  have  no  concern 
with  Ministers  or  Kings,  ours  are  subservient  to 
the  government.  Nor  can  we  claim  that  our 
morality  is  fit  for  imposition  on  other  peoples.  The 
spirit  of  fraternity,  formerly  so  powerful  amongst 
us,  grows  poorer  day  by  day,  and  this  is  the  single 
human  sentiment  which  can  conquer  the  world. 
We  have  seen  many  reservists  part  from  their  wives 
— an  act  intrinsically  against  nature  ;  they  feigned 
bravery  in  order  to  win  applause.  To  summarize, 
our  priests,  our  industrial  leaders  and  our  soldiers 
think  only  of  pleasing  the  crowd,  and  Japan  has 
not  a  single  great  principle  to  show  the  world." 
One  must  admit  that  there  is  a  touch  of  force,  of 
generosity  and  of  courage  in  these  contentions. 

Another  Socialist  Review,  the  Heimin  Sbimbun — 
a  paper  more  for  the  crowd — declares,  in  good 
Japanese  and  with  an  English  translation,  what 
attitude  the  Socialist  Party  will  take  in  regard  to 
the  war  :  "  We  Socialists  have  maintained  a  firm 
opposition  to  the  general  clamour  in  favour  of  the 
war  and  we  have  done  our  best  to  make  known  our 
attitude  by  speech  and  by  publication.  To-day, 
with  the  people  losing  their  heads  over  the  naval 
victories,  this  attitude  remains  unchanged.  The 
enthusiasm  grows  from  day  to  day  and  every  one 
is  now  prepared  to  give  the  government  all  the 
money  it  needs.  No  one  thinks  of  the  disastrous 
consequences  which  will  inevitably  follow.  Even 
the  labouring  classes  refuse  to  see  how  deplorable 
the  war  is  for  them  :  they  persist  in  their  vision 
that  some  undefined  amelioration  of  their  lives  will 
come  out  of  the  present  ominous  crisis.  It  seems 
as  if  they  were  stupefied  by  an  intoxicant.  A  man 
who  is  suffering  from  cold  can  warm  himself  for  an 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  119 

instant  with  whisky;  but  his  suffering  returns  as 
soon  as  the  effect  of  the  alcohol  has  passed.  It  is 
the  duty  of  Socialists  to  remain  dispassionate  and 
to  judge  matters  impartially.  Was  the  Russo- 
Japanese  war  really  inevitable  ?  Is  it  actually  true 
that  the  independence  of  Japan  is  menaced  if  the 
Russian  forces  are  not  expelled  from  Manchuria  ? 
Is  it  not  always  the  case  that  war  brings  profit  to  a 
small  number  of  capitalists,  while  it  is  sheer  loss  to 
the  proletariat  ?  As  long  as  these  queries  remain 
unanswered,  we  cannot  justify  the  conflict  in  which 
we  are  engaged." 

jth  March.  A  condemned  man  who  was  hanged 
the  day  before  yesterday  had  hoarded  two  yen. 
The  jailer  urged  him  to  spend  them  in  a  final  feast, 
but  the  good  fellow,  in  his  patriotism,  left  the  two 
yen  to  the  government  which  decreed  his  death. 

The  situation  presents  many  opportunities  for 
citing  the  philosophy  of  history.  Uchimura  Kanzo 
has  stated  the  following  as  the  philosophy  of  Japan's 
political  action  :  "  In  a  word,  it  must  be  that  of 
the  Hungarians  and  not  of  the  Turks.  We  are 
Mongols,  a  detached  branch  of  the  Altaic  tribes ; 
we  have  no  need  to  deprecate  this  origin,  for  we 
know  that  no  ethnic  past  can  disbar  either  a  man 
or  a  nation  from  the  attainment  of  the  highest 
ideals.  It  is  civilization  and  not  heredity  which  is 
determinant  in  the  destiny  of  peoples."  M.  Uchi- 
mura is  a  Christian  and  a  man  of  powerful  mentality. 
He  knows  that  he  himself  came  originally  from 
Central  Asia ;  and  he  does  not  believe  himself 
descended  from  Amaterasu  and  does  not  contend 
that  the  other  nations  are  issue  of  the  excrement  of 
Susanowo. 

"  Japan,  in  her  position  as  representative  of  the 


120  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

Orient,  should  not  seek  to  orientalize  the  world. 
The  Turk  tried  it,  and  in  spite  of  his  initial  suc- 
cesses he  remains  the  sick  man  of  the  East.  The 
Hungarian,  also  of  Oriental  origin  and  a  cousin  of 
the  Turk,  has  done  otherwise ;  and  to-day  his 
prosperity  attests  his  wisdom.  John  Hunyade  fought 
his  Turkish  brothers  in  defence  of  European  civiliza- 
tion ;  and  he  thus  saved  Europe  and  Hungary  itself. 
If  the  Hungarians  were  traitors  to  their  race,  they 
were  faithful  to  the  civilization  which  they  had 
adopted.  Their  case  is  one  of  those  in  which  it  is 
necessary  to  desert  one's  parents  in  order  to  enter 
into  the  kingdom  of  progress. 

"  The  Yellow  Peril  of  which  certain  Europeans 
speak  springs  from  their  fear  that  Japan  may  play, 
on  a  larger  scale,  the  same  part  essayed  by  Turkey. 
Millions  of  Chinese,  armed  by  Japan,  dance  before 
their  terrified  vision,  and  they  hasten  to  prepare  to 
defend  themselves  against  this  danger.  The  futility 
of  their  effort  is  apparent,  since  if  such  an  incursion 
were  to  come  to  pass  no  European  nation  could 
resist  it.  A  Gengis-Khan,  with  his  soldiers  armed 
with  Murata  guns,  would  oversweep  everything. 
But  " — the  tone  of  the  statement  changed  in  a  way 
that  relieved  what  had  been,  I  admit,  my  fear — 
"  this  is  exactly  illustrative  of  the  responsibilities 
of  Japan  and  of  her  need  of  a  noble  self-control. 
As  the  vigilant  guardian  of  the  East,  it  is  her  task 
to  forbid  any  encroachment  by  a  barbaric  power ; 
but  as  the  author  of  European  civilization  in  the 
Orient  she  should  never  permit  a  revulsion,  in  her 
associate  nations  or  in  herself,  against  that  civiliza- 
tion, which  is  the  life  of  humanity.  In  the  midst 
of  the  future  glories  that  await  her,  she  must  never 
forget  that  her  present  glory  is  due  to  the  civiliza- 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  121 

tion  which  she  received  from  the  West ;  that  if  her 
geographical  situation  is  Oriental,  her  actual  affinities 
are  with  the  West,  and  that  a  nation  is  made  of 
spirit  and  not  of  flesh." 

Three  weeks  ago  M.  Uchimura  was  hostile  to 
the  war.  He  regarded  the  Russians  as  Mongol 
brothers.  To-day  he  differentiates  and  distinguishes 
the  living  elements  of  the  struggle,  but  his  generous 
spirituality  remains  the  same. 

2$th  March.  The  extreme  apprehension  of  the 
first  month  has  almost  disappeared.  One  news- 
paper gives  the  name  of  hysterics  to  the  people 
who  sacrifice  their  family  treasures  to  the  cause 
and  who  live  in  an  ascetic  frugality.  The  most 
ardent  patriots  have  no  longer  so  combative  an  air, 
nor  do  they  seem  keyed  up  to  so  keen  an  anxiety. 
Little  by  little  the  music  of  the  guitars  sounds  less 
muffled. 

It  is  remarkable  that  the  single  uncertainty  ap- 
parent in  Japan  since  the  outbreak  of  the  war  has 
to  do  with  the  question  of  finance.  The  eventuality 
of  defeat  has  never  been  mentioned  and  it  seems 
never  to  have  suggested  itself  to  the  majority  of  the 
Japanese.  It  is  because  of  the  universal  certitude 
of  victory  that  the  country  seems  so  perfectly 
united. 

One  of  the  two  principal  factions,  the  Seiya-Kai  or 
constitutional  party,  announced  that  it  could  not 
reconcile  itself  with  the  Cabinet,  whose  interior 
and  foreign  policy  and  whose  absolutist  tendencies 
it  condemned ;  but  that  in  the  name  of  the  un- 
animity of  the  nation  it  would  not  force  any  active 
opposition.  The  second  party,  the  Shimpoto  or 
the  progressive  group,  declared  its  position  on  the 
same  basis.  The  parliamentary  sessions,  which  began 


122  JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 

five  days  ago,  have  thus  been  exempt  from  discus- 
sion and  occupied  almost  entirely  by  votes  of 
approbation. 

The  perfection  of  this  discipline  has  been  achieved, 
it  is  true,  by  mutual  concessions.  The  opening  of 
the  Chambers  was  preceded  by  a  series  of  confer- 
ences between  the  members  of  the  Cabinet  and  the 
party  leaders,  and  there  were  sharp  debates  before 
a  compromise  was  reached.  The  Cabinet  was 
forced  to  forego  several  features  of  its  programme. 
It  was  able  to  impose  the  monopoly  on  tobacco, 
but  the  monopoly  on  salt — a  vexatious  tax  which 
produced  little  revenue — was  rejected.  The  great 
tobacco  dealers  defended  their  case  hotly ;  the 
press  has  carried  on  an  enthusiastic  campaign  in 
their  favour,  and  they  have  succeeded  in  augment- 
ing the  indemnity  accorded  to  them.  The  agri- 
culturalists have  forced  a  reduction  in  the  proposed 
increase  of  the  land  tax ;  the  silk  manufacturers 
have  managed  to  evade  a  new  tax  on  silk.  At  the 
cost  of  great  effort  the  party  leaders  have  obtained 
a  ruling  from  the  government  that  extraordinary 
taxes  shall  not  be  conserved  for  more  than  a  year 
after  the  war ;  but  it  was  only  on  the  night  of  the 
2Oth  of  March,  after  the  solemn  opening  of  Parlia- 
ment by  the  Emperor,  that  definite  accord  was 
established  on  all  these  points. 

With  such  prearrangements  the  official  sessions, 
which  are  short  meetings  of  an  hour  before  a  selected 
public,  have  reflected  the  "  unanimity  of  the  nation." 
The  Ministers  read  academic  discourses  and  con- 
gratulations were  sent  to  the  fleet.  The  various 
articles  of  the  budget  were  arbitrarily  voted ;  and, 
to  crown  the  patriotic  enthusiasm,  a  deputy  accused 
one  o*  his  colleagues  of  having  sold  himself  to 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  123 

Russia.  No  serious  accusation  could  be  furnished 
against  the  pretended  spy,  but  such  is  the  mental 
sensibility  of  public  assemblies  in  war  time  that  he 
was  immediately  proscribed,  with  imprecations. 

2tyh  March.  Lieutenant  Hirose,  who  tried  to 
block  the  entrance  to  Port  Arthur,  was  to  come 
here  to  give,  concerning  his  exploit,  a  lecture 
which  now  will  never  take  place.  He  renewed  his 
attempt  and  was  killed.  The  papers  publish  his 
biography  and  cite  him  as  a  national  hero.  It 
appears  that  he  was  a  lover  of  art  and  spoke  English, 
French  and  Russian.  In  this  cultured  man  it  is 
surprising  to  find  a  certain  mystical  veneration  of 
monarchy.  At  an  official  ceremony  the  Empress 
once  shook  hands  with  him,  in  the  Occidental 
fashion ;  and  he  preserved  the  gloves  he  had  worn 
and  wished  to  die,  as  he  said,  wearing  them. 

$ist  March.  .Japanese  officials  and  American 
residents  here  have  celebrated  the  fiftieth  anni- 
versary of  the  landing  from  American  ships  on  the 
Japanese  coast,  an  event  which  determined  the 
advent  of  Western  civilization.  Imposing  speeches 
have  been  made  on  the  subject.  One  of  the 
deputies,  M.  Shimada,  declared  in  the  heat  of 
his  ardour  that  Japan  had  definitely  adopted  the 
Anglo-Saxon  type  of  civilization,  characterized  by 
the  love  of  liberty,  equality  and  progress.  Count 
Okuma,  who  is  more  attached  to  the  old  Japan, 
analysed  in  a  subtle  speech  the  proportionate  in- 
fluences of  the  interaction  of  American  ideas.  He 
defended  the  policy  of  a  closed  door,  established  by 
Seyasu  at  a  time  when  Europe  ceased  her  religious 
wars  only  long  enough  to  dismember  herself  in  the 
Thirty  Years'  War.  "  This  policy  assured  to  Japan 
a  peace  of  more  than  two  centuries,  in  the  security 


124  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

of  which  there  developed  a  renascence  of  the  literary 
art,  a  progressive  commercial  growth,  and  a  marvel- 
lous increase  of  public  prosperity."  He  recalled 
the  fact  that  long  before  the  arrival  of  Commodore 
Perry,  medicine,  botany,  astronomy  and  other 
branches  of  Western  science  had  been  introduced 
by  the  Dutch  of  Nagasaki.  From  the  beginning 
to  the  end  of  his  speech  he  combated  the  idea  that 
a  mystical  stroke  by  a  magic  wand  had  been  given 
to  Japan  by  the  West. 

Since  this  legend  has  become  common  property 
in  its  misapprehension  and  will  be  repeated  to  the 
point  of  satiety  during  the  present  war,  it  is  well 
to  recollect  how  much  exaggeration  it  contains. 
In  1854  JaPan  was  inferior,  in  general  culture,  to 
no  European  country;  it  was  superior  to  most  of 
them.  At  this  time  Europe  had  the  advantage 
only  in  a  certain  number  of  practical  inventions, 
made  in  the  previous  thirty  years,  and  in  the  fact 
that  some  nations  had  established  constitutional 
government.  Japan  had  her  first  railway  in  1874; 
France  had  had  hers  thirty-seven  years  earlier.  The 
difference  is  scarcely  a  formidable  one ;  and  if  the 
new  method  of  transportation  seemed  strange  to 
Japan,  it  was  no  less  so  to  the  France  of  Louis- 
Philippe.  The  Japanese  government  was  made 
constitutional  in  1889;  this  can  hardly  be  called 
an  excessive  delay  in  progress,  as  compared  with 
that  of  other  nations ;  and  the  country  was  not 
less  prepared  for  this  form  of  administration  than 
the  France  of  Louis  XV  or  the  Austria  of  Metter- 
nich.  In  a  word,  Japan,  with  her  civilization  equal 
to,  and  of  older  origin  than,  European  civilization, 
consistently  ignored  Europe  as  long  as  she  con- 
sidered that  Europe  had  nothing  important  to 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  125 

teach  her.  She  adopted  European  innovations 
almost  as  soon  as  they  appeared.  This  does  not 
seem  extraordinary.  The  new  Japan  and  the  old 
are  not  in  a  more  marked  opposition  than  the  new 
and  old  phases  of  any  given  European  country. 

Osaka,  2nd  April.  The  castle  of  Osaka  is  re- 
markable for  its  mass.  It  is  noteworthy  that  while 
most  things  in  Japan  are  small  and  on  a  small 
scale,  when  they  are  large  they  reach  the  pro- 
portions of  the  gigantic.  An  entire  quarter  of  the 
town  is  contained  in  the  first  enclosure.  The 
massive  walls,  with  their  deep  projecting  angles, 
recall  the  fever  of  enthusiasm  for  such  construction 
which  beset  the  Japanese  when  they  had  learned 
from  the  Portuguese  the  art  of  building  fortresses. 
Stone  buildings  were  then  a  complete  innovation  to 
them.  Yet  this  colossal  citadel  was  raised  in  two 
years — one  wonders  how. 

The  scale  of  the  castle  evokes  the  people  who 
lived  in  it  and  the  master  mind  which  ordered  its 
construction.  In  the  sixteenth  century  the  nation 
was  energetic,  adventurous,  brutal,  rich  in  blood 
and  muscle,  worthy  of  the  praise  of  Stendhal  or 
of  Taine.  From  Osaka  there  set  out  the  great 
expedition  to  invade  Corea,  the  single  one  made 
by  the  Japanese  before  1894  outside  of  their  own 
territory.  Three  hundred  thousand  men  were 
launched  in  the  adventure,  as  many,  it  may  be,  as 
will  be  involved  in  this  Russo-Japanese  war.  There 
was  no  real  motive  for  the  invasion.  Neither 
Corea  nor  China  threatened  Hideyoshi.  The  war 
was  a  direct  consequence  of  the  acquisition  of  new 
armaments,  and  was  necessitated  by  the  frenzied 
prodigality  of  the  times.  Each  New  Year's  Day 
the  daimyo  were  required  to  transport  to  Osaka 


126  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

mounds  of  gold,  and  Hideyoshi,  on  his  part,  main- 
tained the  fidelity  of  his  followers  only  by  a  cease- 
less distribution  of  fiefs  and  of  goods.  "  Their 
desire  for  gain  was  limitless,"  says  a  Japanese  his- 
torian, "  but  the  power  to  satisfy  it  was  circum- 
scribed by  the  size  of  the  country.  Thus,  Hide- 
yoshi was  forced  to  award  to  his  generals  recom- 
penses to  be  conquered  in  foreign  lands."  The 
Japanese  conquistadores  flung  themselves  upon  the 
peninsula  at  the  time  when  the  pillaging  soldiers  of 
Spain  were  sacking  all  of  their  known  world.  But 
they  were  confronted  by  what  to-day  the  Russians 
supremely  lack — by  an  admiral  of  genius.  The 
Corean  admiral  invented  to  combat  them  those 
famous  tortoise-like  boats,  covered  with  iron  plates 
and  able  to  advance  from  either  end,  which  were 
the  first  armoured  ships.  He  succeeded  in  cutting 
the  communications  of  the  would-be  conquerors ; 
and  the  expedition  to  Corea  terminated  like  Bona- 
parte's expedition  to  Egypt. 

To-day  the  enormous  fortress  is  again  sending 
forth  soldiers  for  the  conquest  of  the  continent. 
The  very  stir  of  the  horses  in  their  stalls  sounds  as 
if  they  were  restless  to  be  off  and  across  Siberia. 
The  same  nervous  energy  runs  throughout  the 
men,  and  one  feels  that  its  inspiration  comes  from 
that  old  land  of  carnage,  Europe. 

yd  April.  The  festival  of  the  apotheosis  of  the 
first  Emperor,  the  founder  of  Japan.  To-night  a 
Russian  boat  was  burnt  in  effigy.  From  the  window 
of  my  inn  I  could  see  the  rapid  passage  of  lanterns, 
as  fleeting  as  the  sound  of  guitars,  on  the  black 
water.  They  are  the  geisha  boats,  and  each  lantern 
cast  on  the  water  a  bar  of  tremulous  gold.  When 
the  fire  of  the  supposed  Russian  ship  burst  forth, 


JAPANESE  PATRIOTISM  127 

all  the  river  flamed  into  light  and  on  the  other 
bank  a  great  shout  rose  from  a  vast  invisible  crowd. 

jtb-Sth  April.  One  can  go  from  Osaka  to 
Hiroshima  by  water  through  the  Japanese  archi- 
pelago ;  the  boat  drops  down  the  river,  between 
the  hedges  of  high  caravels,  and  then  stops,  one  by 
one,  at  every  little  port.  The  inner  sea  of  Japan 
is  like  our  Mediterranean  set  in  a  garden.  Even 
at  night  one  traces  the  wonders  and  surprises  of 
the  coast  and  its  beauty  penetrates  one's  sleep. 
At  dawn  new  islands  emerge  in  the  light,  some 
leafy  and  some  arid.  The  morning  mist  suspends 
the  mountains  in  the  sky,  as  they  appear  in  the 
kakemono.  Little  by  little  each  village,  each  beach, 
and  each  watering-place  grows  precise  in  detail  and 
the  extravagant  lines  of  the  twisted  pines  dis- 
sociate themselves  from  the  grey  rocks.  At  every 
loveliest  point  there  is  a  temple.  Here  and  there 
rises  from  the  sea  a  flowery  cluster  of  trees,  clinging 
to  a  frail  islet  of  sand ;  and  we  floated  past  the 
dreaming  fishing-boats  where  entire  families  spend 
their  lives,  crouched  about  a  tiny  fire. 

At  one  place  the  sea  narrows  to  the  dimensions 
of  a  wide  river  and  one  can  see  the  tomb  of  that 
Kiyomori  who,  in  the  twelfth  century,  was  tyrant 
of  the  archipelago.  The  incessant  warfare  between 
the  pirates  of  these  islands  once  created  here  a 
great  naval  power,  which  was  the  rival  of  the  feudal 
power  established  in  the  north  in  the  plain  of 
Kamalura.  Sailors  fought  against  archers  and  Taira 
against  Minamoto.  The  victory  was  won  by  the 
North ;  but  to-day  the  people  of  the  South  have 
their  advantage  again  and  fill  almost  all  the  high 
grades  of  the  navy  and  the  army. 

April.    Everything  has  united,  in  the  last 


128  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

two  months,  to  deepen  the  profound  impression 
of  that  upheaval  which  attends  the  commencement 
of  a  conflict.  War  seizes  a  people  as  a  passion 
seizes  a  man  :  both  experiences  are  of  a  basic  force 
before  which  everything  else  is  effaced.  Sacrifice, 
suffering  and  death  exact  no  cost  and  life  has  no 
intrinsic  price  apart  from  the  momentous  emotion. 
The  circumstances  are  always  regarded  as  unique 
and  unparalleled ;  yet  the  individual  is  only  one 
more  man  touched  by  the  eternal  genius  of  life, 
and  the  nation  is,  with  equal  completeness,  in  the 
hands  of  the  god  of  destruction,  the  irresistible 
Siva. 

Those  actively  engaged  in  a  war  can  never  explain 
its  causes.  At  the  root  of  these  is  an  instinct  not 
of  hate  but  of  pride.  The  sonorous  old  word  glory 
is  still  the  same  motive  of  combats ;  and,  when  a 
people  fling  themselves  into  carnage,  it  is  above 
all  because  of  their  idea  of  this  idealism.  In  this 
war  almost  all  the  Japanese  believe  themselves  bent 
on  the  ruin  of  Russia ;  only  a  few  of  them  know 
that  what  they  hope  to  conquer  is  her  esteem. 


CONFUCIUS 


CONFUCIUS 


E  had  left  the  train  which,  in  recent 
years,  has  run  from  Tsinan-fou  to 
Nankin,  through  the  most  ancient 
China  ;  the  holy  mountain  of  T'ai- 
chan,  at  the  base  of  which  we  had 
crept,  was  gone  from  the  horizon. 
In  the  vast  plain  the  shimmering 
harvest  was  ripening  in  the  July  sun ;  its  golden 
riches,  swollen  by  the  last  rain,  seemed,  in  their  dry 
brilliancy,  to  be  already  thirsting  for  the  next. 

We  took  our  places  in  the  Chinese  cart,  one  of 
us  bent  to  suffocation  beneath  the  dark  canopy,  the 
other  half  protected  by  the  awning  stretched  above 
the  horse.  The  wheels  slipped  into  ruts  older  than 
time,  and  with  its  accustomed  lurch  the  cart  swung 
into  the  long  slow  movement  of  the  horse  and  the 
driver  who  walked  beside  him. 

We  found  ourselves  in  the  immeasurably  ancient 
district  of  Lou,  two  hours'  journey  from  the  juris- 
diction of  K'iu-feou,  the  city  where  Confucius  was 
for  more  than  thirty  years  a  functionary,  which  he 
quitted,  dissatisfied  with  the  trend  of  public  action, 
to  travel  for  fourteen  years  in  neighbouring  countries, 
to  which  he  returned  to  die  and  where  he  has  his 
tomb.  In  honour  of  this  tomb  there  exists  the 


132  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

temple  which  China,  in  an  increasing  ardour  of 
faith,  has  enlarged  from  age  to  age.  One  is  per- 
petually dumb  before  the  enigma  of  this  man  whose 
doctrine  has  united  a  vaster  multitude  of  faithful 
than  that  of  any  god  and  who  has  to-day  more 
temples  than  Buddha  or  than  Allah.  What  genius 
is  enclosed  in  this  commandment  founded  solely 
upon  reason,  and  that  modest  form  of  reason  which 
is  the  operation  of  good  sense  ?  It  is  an  incredible 
departure  from  the  usual  premises  to  have  to  recog- 
nize that  this  kind  of  practical  wisdom  can  work 
as  great  prodigies  as  faith  ;  that  a  people  can  cease- 
lessly, from  generation  to  generation,  honour  reason 
rather  than  a  divinity.  The  admission  is  a  difficult 
one  for  the  Occidental  soul  still  saturated  with 
mysticism. 

Our  cart  made  its  slow  way  between  the  hedges 
of  slim  reeds  which  waved  above  it  their  plumed 
crests,  bursting  with  grain.  This  is  a  kind  of 
millet,  which  provides  the  Chinese  peasant  with 
the  mats  for  his  house  and  with  a  broth  for  him- 
self and  his  live-stock.  When  the  high  interlaced 
walls  opened,  long  fields  of  flax  and  wheat  stretched 
beyond  ;  farther  still  a  vast  multitude  of  swollen 
gourds  crept  across  the  ground.  The  cart  wheels 
dropped  into  sand,  and  suddenly  a  river  cut  the 
plain  in  two.  Our  driver  stripped  himself  to  his 
waist  and  we  passed  over  a  shallow  spot,  with  the 
water  murmuring  about  the  axles. 

One  has  the  sense  that  these  customs  have  altered 
but  little  since  the  beginning  of  the  world.  Our 
cart  is  like  that  of  the  most  primitive  scripture,  with 
its  body  balanced  on  long  axles  which  protrude  fan- 
tastically beyond  the  wheels.  Confucius  made  his 
journeys  in  such  a  vehicle.  The  width  between  the 


CONFUCIUS  133 

wheels,  and  the  consequent  width  of  the  ruts  in  the 
road,  is  to-day,  as  it  was  in  his  time,  peculiar  to  each 
region ;  so  particularly  and  so  invariably  that  a 
definition  of  this  measurement  is  also  a  definition 
of  the  province  from  which  a  man  hails. 

Our  driver  showed  us  in  the  distance  a  long  wall, 
with  innumerable  trees  beyond  it.  This  is  the 
tomb,  or  rather,  as  they  term  it,  the  "  forest "  of 
Confucius.  Half  an  hour  later  we  had  entered  the 
city. 

There  is  nothing  to  recall  to  one  either  a  Mecca 
or  a  Jerusalem ;  no  shops  with  religious  objects,  no 
wares  for  tourists,  and  no  hostel  for  the  reception 
of  pilgrims.  It  was  with  difficulty  that  we  found 
a  bookseller  who  had  a  description  of  the  temple, 
and  this  he  refused  to  sell  because  he  did  not  want 
our  silver  piastres  and  we  had  not  enough  sous. 
We  engaged  our  lodging  in  the  inn,  which  is  neither 
better  nor  larger  than  those  in  the  usual  villages. 
They  gave  us  two  rooms,  whose  floors  were  of 
trodden  earth ;  on  the  wall  was  a  portrait  of  the 
Sage  and  some  of  his  inscriptions.  Our  fellow- 
lodgers  were  some  carters,  a  few  merchants  and 
two  actresses  from  Tsinan-fou,  who  had  been  driven 
out  as  the  result  of  brawls. 

Close  by  some  triumphant  arches,  a  vast  enclosure 
and  monumental  gates  announce  the  presence  of  a 
great  temple.  This  is  the  sacred  edifice  of  Yen-tseu, 
the  favourite  disciple ;  the  temple  of  Confucius  is 
farther  off ;  in  itself  it  occupies  half  of  the  city  and 
a  street  runs  through  its  precincts.  As  one  ap- 
proaches it,  one  passes  under  a  belfry,  on  the 
summit  of  which  an  enormous  drum,  framed  in  a 
lovely  kiosk,  strikes  the  hour,  twice  each  day.  The 
"  forest  "  is  still  distant,  beyond  the  walls. 


134  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

The  city  is  filled  with  a  curious  peace.  In  spite 
of  the  filthy  mud  of  its  streets,  the  sordidness  of 
its  hovels  and  its  clamorous  troops  of  naked  children, 
it  has  an  air  of  serenity  and  quietude.  From  the 
high  ramparts  one's  eye  rests  on  the  long  placid 
flow  of  harvests.  In  every  public  square  there  is  a 
small  stone  mill,  and  the  people  pass  in  turn,  to 
grind  their  millet  and  their  wheat.  Tiny  cages 
holding  grasshoppers  hang  before  the  shops ;  and 
each  time  the  carts  pass  the  insects  supplement  the 
shrill  creak  of  the  wheels  with  a  still  shriller  cry. 
The  palace  of  the  governor  is  guarded  by  soldiers 
with  long  braids,  whose  air  is  scarcely  martial ;  its 
dignity  is  further  signalized  by  its  lovely  beams  of 
blue  and  gold.  The  men  seem  relaxed  and  without 
muscle,  and  have  a  touch  of  effeminacy.  The 
women  sway  on  their  tortured  feet,  which  give 
them  the  air  of  wounded  hinds ;  but  the  faces  of 
many  of  them  have  a  fine  purity  and  an-  expression 
of  deep  sweetness. 

Like  all  Chinese  cities,  this  malodorous  one  exhales 
the  very  perfume  of  literature.  Not  a  house  and  not 
a  door  is  without  a  literary  inscription.  Ordinarily 
this  takes  the  form  of  the  expression  of  a  good  wish, 
to  which  is  given  a  metaphorical  or  poetic  turn. 
Sometimes  it  is  a  delicate  phrase  or  a  classic  allusion 
for  the  relish  of  a  subtle  intelligence.  The  very 
shop  signs  are  composed  to  flatter  the  perspicacity 
of  the  literarily  minded. 

A  knot  of  people,  as  we  approached,  proved  to 
be  listening  to  a  blind  man.  He  held  a  kind  of 
long  tube,  covered  with  a  serpent  skin  and  sealed 
with  another  tightly  drawn  skin,  for  resonance  ;  and 
while  he  struck  this,  at  regular  intervals,  he  recited 
an  old  epic  plaint.  It  was  touching  to  see  the 


CONFUCIUS  135 

respect  with  which  he  was  surrounded  and  the 
frequent  request  for  a  repetition  of  the  loveliest 
passages.  Elsewhere  some  people  were  seated  or 
standing  about  a  public  scribe  who,  with  his  spec- 
tacles on  his  nose,  was  reading  a  romance  for  which 
he  furnished  the  mimicry,  the  variations  of  intona- 
tion and  a  running  commentary.  As  his  chapters 
ended,  those  who  were  pleased  with  his  performance 
gave  him  one  or  two  coins. 

This  rustic  city  is  again  like  other  Chinese  cities 
in  that  it  is  haunted  by  genii.  Everywhere  a  sense 
of  their  presence  is  evident ;  and,  what  is  more, 
everything  indicates  that  most  of  them  are  impor- 
tunate. In  front  of  or  behind  the  apertures  of  each 
house  a  screen  is  placed  to  prevent  them  from 
entering.  The  terrifying  images  of  the  Taoist  gods 
whom  the  genii  most  fear  are  pasted  against  the 
doors ;  and  on  the  roof -trees  are  placed  porcelain 
statuettes  of  those  animals  whose  influence  is 
exorcising — dogs  and  lions,  fish  and  unicorns,  repre- 
sented in  the  most  hostile  postures.  As  one  finds 
everywhere  in  China,  the  summit  of  each  roof  is 
carefully  slanted  upwards.  There  have  been  various 
reasons  offered  for  this  slant,  which  is  so  typical 
and  so  strange ;  it  has  been  suggested  that  it  is  a 
surviving  form  of  the  construction  of  the  tents  of 
nomadic  ancestors ;  but  investigation  has  established 
the  fact  that  the  most  ancient  Chinese  houses  have 
roofs  which  drop  uniformly.  The  roof  which  is 
bent  upwards  appears  at  the  same  time  as  the  cult 
of  Taoist  exorcisms.  It  is,  therefore,  probable  that 
this  architectural  movement  was  an  attempt  to 
facilitate  the  flight  of  genii  from  the  house  and  to 
prevent  them  from  striking  against  the  roof  itself 
and  falling. 


136  JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 

If  Confucius  returned  to-day,  he  would  find  the 
morality  of  his  city  little  changed.  His  fellow- 
citizens  still  profess  two  of  his  most  rooted  doctrines 
— a  taste  for  literature  and  a  careful  avoidance  of 
supernatural  beings. 


The  temple  of  Confucius  is  an  entire  city,  or  rather 
a  vast  palace,  with  large  and  small  apartments,  high 
ceremonial  chambers,  light  kiosks,  parks,  courts, 
galleries,  common-rooms  and  dependencies.  The 
spirit  of  Confucius  has  a  princely  lodging,  sur- 
rounded by  his  four  associates,  the  twelve  great 
philosophers  who  followed  him  and  his  seventy-two 
principal  disciples.  In  addition  to  his  spiritual 
family,  his  terrestrial  relatives  are  given  a  place  near 
him.  One  palace  is  reserved  for  his  wife,  one  for 
his  father,  another  for  his  mother,  and  a  fourth  for 
his  ancestors.  Wide  parks  open  out  through 
triumphal  arches  and  beyond  magnificent  mono- 
liths which  have  been  erected  by  his  worshippers. 
Space  has  not  been  spared ;  there  is  everywhere 
evidenced  the  sense  that  this  immense  monument, 
which  represents  the  unity  and  the  moral  con- 
tinuity of  China,  should  be  expressive  of  the 
grandeur  of  that  unity  and  the  majesty  of  that 
continuity. 

In  the  temple-palace  itself  nothing  is  mystical ; 
nor  is  anything  religious,  in  the  usual  sense  of  the 
word.  The  atmosphere  differs  totally  from  that  of 
a  church,  a  mosque  or  even  of  a  Buddhist  temple. 
Everywhere  there  is  testimony  to  the  deference, 
respect  and  veneration  which  surround  the  wisdom 
of  the  men  who  are  honoured  here ;  but  at  no 


CONFUCIUS  137 

moment  does  the  freedom  of  the  human  spirit 
seem  bent  by  the  oppressive  consciousness  of  con- 
cealed power.  There  is  no  reserved  area,  no 
darkened  sanctuary,  no  Holy  of  holies.  Everything 
is  open,  gracious  and  light.  The  guardians  are 
neither  priests  nor  sacristans.  If  you  observe  the 
laws  of  natural  decorum  you  may  go  anywhere  and 
do  whatever  pleases  you,  without  the  risk  of  violating 
a  rule  or  profaning  a  sacred  precinct.  You  are 
visiting  a  prince  of  the  mind,  who  is  not  a  Buddha 
and  still  less  a  god. 

Taken  as  a  whole,  it  is  one  of  the  great  monuments 
of  the  world.  The  height  of  the  vision  it  conveys 
and  its  architectural  beauty  come  from  its  plan  and 
its  proportion.  Spaces  and  masses,  parks  and  build- 
ings, supplement  each  other  and  subordinate  them- 
selves harmoniously  to  the  principal  edifice,  which 
dominates  them  without  dwarfing  them.  Logic, 
rhythm  and  balance  are  everywhere ;  reason  is 
satisfied  before  the  eye  is  satisfied.  Each  court  has 
its  particularities  of  dimension ;  each  pavilion  has 
an  original  form ;  but  the  pervasive  order  and 
symmetry  hold  them  in  the  relation  to  which  they 
are  proportionately  suited.  The  great  gates  through 
which  one  successively  passes  are  placed  at  calculated 
distances,  the  terrace  on  which  is  raised  the  main 
pavilion  is  neither  too  high  nor  too  low,  and  a 
harmony  flows  throughout  all  the  detail.  Once 
there  is  established  in  one's  mind  the  sense  of  this 
sureness  and  strength  and  of  grave  balance,  one  is 
prepared  to  savour  the  comparative  relation  between 
a  stela  and  the  pavilion  which  covers  it,  between 
the  pavilion  and  the  court  which  surrounds  it, 
between  one  of  the  columns  and  the  roof  which  it 
supports ;  and  from  the  outer  park  to  the  innermost, 


138  JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 

one  sees  a  thousand  repetitions  of  the  thuya,  a  tree 
with  the  sombreness  and  rigidity  of  the  cypress, 
which  in  its  architectural  lines  and  its  V-shaped 
branches  adds  to  the  classic  regularity  of  the  whole. 

This  regularity  would  border  on  severity  if  the 
men  who  designed  it  had  not  foreseen  the  admirable 
collaboration  of  nature.  The  essentially  Chinese 
negligence  of  the  guardians  of  the  temple  has  added 
to  the  art  of  its  architects.  Almost  without  excep- 
tion the  parks  have  been  overrun  not  only  by  weeds 
but  by  a  thick  jungle  ;  a  jungle  alive  with  perfumes 
and  noises,  dense  with  every  kind  of  bush  and 
plant,  where  partridges  scuttle  to  and  fro  and 
grasshoppers  cry.  Only  the  great  paved  court 
which  precedes  the  central  terrace  is  free  from 
other  invasion  than  that  of  mosses  and  lichens. 
The  alignment  of  the  thuyas  has  been  just  enough 
broken ;  and  the  effect  is  marvellous.  Against  the 
clear  deep  green  of  the  jungle,  the  two  beautiful 
colours  used  by  the  architects — the  imperial  yellow 
of  the  lacquered  roofs  and  the  vermilion  of  the 
walls — spring  into  vigorous  contrast ;  and  in  the 
surrounding  frame  of  these  vital  colours,  which  are 
everywhere  present,  all  the  other  colours  glow  with 
life  and  harmony.  The  grey  of  the  thuyas  takes 
on  the  delicacies  of  a  softened  silver ;  the  poly- 
chromy  of  the  under  roofs — a  blue  symphony  touched 
with  green  and  gold — becomes  a  festival  of  beauty. 
The  smallest  object  which  passes  in  the  distance,  the 
blue  of  a  cotton  drapery,  the  pallor  of  flesh  or  the 
rose  of  a  silk  robe,  surprises  and  enchants  the  eye. 

Once  one  has  felt  the  organized  grandeur  of  this 
Chinese  monument,  one  feels  that  it  rivals  the 
greatest  magnificences  of  Asia.  The  unforgettable 
temples  of  Japan  have  a  romantic  beauty.  They  are 


CONFUCIUS  139 

subordinated  to  Nature,  and  they  show  her  in 
aspects  perpetually  new,  always  moving  and  always 
rare.  But  they  do  not  unfold  themselves  into  space. 
They  rather  concentrate  one's  view  on  a  single  spot 
where  the  human  heart  can  lift  itself  in  peace.  Their 
appeal  is  to  feeling,  to  all  feeling,  and  it  is  couched 
in  a  magic  and  persuasive  tongue.  But  none  of 
them  speak  the  solemn  universal  language  which 
one  hears  here.  Indian  monuments  have  the  quality 
of  splendour.  Their  beauty  consists  in  an  infinite 
multiplicity,  on  foundations  which  are  summary 
and  often  poor,  of  everything  which  can  startle  and 
stimulate  the  imagination.  Only  the  Musulman 
architecture  of  India  can  be  compared  to  this 
grandeur  of  plan  and  this  balance  of  proportion. 
Yet  an  intrinsic  element  must  always  separate  these 
two.  Musulman  architecture  is  equally  sublime  for 
its  perfection  of  taste  and  for  its  indigence  of 
thought.  Nothing  must  distract  the  spirit  of  the 
worshipper  from  the  pure  and  simple  affirmation 
of  the  existence  of  Allah ;  here,  on  the  contrary, 
everything  is  prepared  by  minds  which  are  both 
selective  and  wise. 

Each  part  of  the  temple  of  Confucius  has  a 
literary  signification,  and  its  name  is  inscribed  in 
gold  on  ultramarine,  upon  a  tablet  placed  so  as  to 
summon  the  attention.  Every  one  of  these  names, 
as  well  as  the  order  of  their  precedence,  has  been 
carefully  chosen.  The  spirit  is  led,  by  a  gradation 
of  allusions  and  of  memories,  to  the  summit  of  the 
highest  thoughts ;  and  the  temple  has  thus  not 
only  the  perfection  of  arrangement,  but  is  also  a 
visual  rule  of  life,  in  which  the  preface  precedes 
the  development  of  subject  and  is  followed  by  the 
peroration. 


140  JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 


As  one  returns  to  the  temple,  day  after  day,  it 
acquires  a  charming  familiarity,  from  the  great 
drum  beneath  the  belfry  to  the  soldiers  on  guard, 
in  their  straw  hats,  who  no  longer  turn  their  heads 
to  watch  us  pass. 

Every  day  we  pay  our  duty  to  the  Perfect  One, 
whose  heavy  lips  have  a  delicate  smile,  behind  his 
jade  pendants,  and  who  seems  to  greet  us  with  an 
infinite  wisdom  and  an  infinite  beneficence.  Then 
we  wander  into  the  oldest  portions  of  the  palace, 
where  he  lived.  The  eternal  thuyas  have  allowed 
a  few  other  better-known  trees  to  penetrate  here, 
of  the  same  kind,  so  legend  says,  as  those  which 
grew  in  his  day.  The  well  which  belonged  to  his 
family  still  holds  water  from  the  same  source  as 
that  which  supplied  it  before  it  reflected  his  face. 
An  Emperor  who  came  to  drink  from  it  composed 
a  poem  which  is  engraved  on  a  stela,  under  a  tiny 
roof,  set  in  the  wild  grasses. 

There  is  a  little  wall,  built  on  the  site  of  a 
similar  wall  in  which  were  found  inurned  some 
priceless  books,  containing  the  most  ancient  text 
of  the  master's  teaching.  But  what  seems  to  make 
the  Sage  most  present  is  the  sight,  just  behind  the 
temple  enclosure,  of  the  curved  roof  of  the  palace 
of  Duke  K'ong,  his  lineal  descendant  and  the 
present  head  of  the  Confucian  house.  He  is  a  city 
magistrate,  as  all  his  ancestors  have  been  since  that 
greatest  ancestor  who  dispensed  justice  here.  The 
line  of  his  nobility,  which  is  older  by  centuries  than 
almost  all  other  descendance,  is  established  on  the 
unbroken  testimony  of  Chinese  history.  China  has 


CONFUCIUS  141 

never  suffered  a  usurpation  of  this  claim.  In  the 
thick  foliage  a  stela  covered  with  moss  traces  this 
genealogical  tree  of  twenty  centuries  up  to  the 
fourteenth  century;  beyond  this,  everything  in 
China  is  practically  contemporary.  The  fact  of 
this  unbroken  line  of  functionaries  lays  an  extra- 
ordinary touch  on  one's  imagination.  To  see  side 
by  side  the  dwellings  of  the  Ancient  One  and  of 
his  successor,  and  to  shift  one's  eye  from  the  well 
of  the  one  to  the  palace  of  the  other,  is  to  witness 
in  material  terms  the  miracle  of  Chinese  perpetuity. 
There  is  an  open  chamber,  a  sort  of  finished 
outbuilding,  erected  on  the  site  of  a  similar  structure 
where  Confucius  had  with  his  son  two  interviews 
whose  history  has  been  preserved.  One  of  the 
disciples  was  in  constant  fear  that  the  master  was 
not  imparting  to  him  all  his  knowledge.  He 
therefore  asked  the  son  of  Confucius  if  his  father 
had  given  him  any  special  wisdom,  and  received 
the  following  answer  :  "  One  day  when  my  father 
was  alone,  and  while  I  was  passing  quickly  and 
silently  through  the  room  " — this  was  a  mark  of 
respect — "  he  said  to  me,  *  Have  you  read  the 
Book  of  Odes  ?  If  you  have  not  read  it,  you  will 
not  be  an  accomplished  man.'  I  read  it.  On 
another  such  occasion  he  arrested  me  as  I  passed 
by  saying,  *  Have  you  read  the  Book  of  Rites  ?  If 
not,  your  virtue  will  lack  a  firm  foundation.'  I 
went  apart  by  myself  and  I  read  it.  This  is  the 
wisdom  I  have  received  from  my  father."  The 
disciple  was  overjoyed  and  said  :  "  I  asked  for  one 
answer  and  I  received  three.  One  concerns  poetry, 
one  concerns  rites,  and  the  third  is  that  the  Sage 
gives  no  secret  instruction  to  his  son."  If  Cicero 
could  have  known  this  citation  of  poetry  and  rites 


I42  JAPANESE   IMPRESSIONS 

as  supremely  important,  one  feels  how  he  would 
have  felt  its  charm. 

The  originality  of  Confucius  lay  in  the  fact  that 
he  gave  no  new  rule,  but  that  he  instituted  a 
school  for  the  practice  of  the  highest  virtue.  Its 
method  was  of  a  mutual  moral  development. 
The  master  corrected  his  pupils  with  vigour  but 
with  an  equable  humour  ;  at  times  he  was  corrected 
himself.  His  weakness  was  that  he  was  at  once  too 
courteous  and  too  sensitive ;  and  his  followers 
blamed  him  equally  for  his  exaggerated  politeness 
in  calling  upon  a  lady  of  the  oldest  of  the  pro- 
fessions and  for  his  exaggerated  grief  at  the  death 
of  his  favourite  disciple. 

He  submitted  all  his  acts  to  the  freest  criticism. 
His  thesis  was  to  form  man  not  by  doctrine  but  by 
his  contact  with  man.  This  practice  of  a  practical 
virtue  so  enchanted  him  that  he  lost,  as  he  has 
said,  all  need  of  food,  that  he  forgot  all  care,  and 
that  he  did  not  feel  the  advent  of  age.  He  and 
his  followers  held  contests  in  the  cause  of  goodness, 
in  which  the  effort  of  each  one  was  to  imagine  the 
most  perfect  actions ;  he  expressed  his  opinion 
freely,  concerning  people  and  things,  events  and 
ideas,  the  heroes  of  the  past  and  the  politicians  of 
the  day,  and  it  was  difficult  to  know  which  trait 
in  his  wisdom  to  admire  most — the  firmness  of  his 
character,  the  suppleness  of  his  wit  or  the  generosity 
of  his  heart.  As  he  says  of  himself  :  "  No  know- 
ledge is  born  in  me,  but  I  love  the  past  and  I  have 
learned  to  learn.  Am  I  wise  ?  I  know  not.  But 
whatever  it  may  be  to  cultivate  virtue  without 
ever  experiencing  distaste  and  to  teach  without  ever 
knowing  lassitude,  that  I  do." 

It  was  in  this  world  of  composite  beauty,  with 


CONFUCIUS  143 

its  colours,  its  verdure  and  its  silences,  that  so  many 
just  and  profound  maxims  came  from  him  : 

"  The  wise  man  does  not  grieve  because  men 
know  him  not,  but  because  he  knows  not  men. 

"  The  wise  man  does  not  spurn  a  good  word 
because  it  is  spoken  by  the  wicked. 

"  Have  I  a  science  ?  I  have  no  science ;  but 
when  the  humblest  man  questions  me,  no  matter 
what  his  ignorance,  I  answer  him  fully. 

"  Not  to  correct  an  involuntary  fault  is  to  commit 
a  real  one. 

"  It  is  more  difficult  to  guard  oneself  from 
bitterness  in  poverty  than  from  arrogance  in  riches. 

"  One  can  carry  off  a  general  from  the  midst  of 
his  army ;  one  cannot  deprive  a  man  of  his  resolve 
to  practise  virtue. 

"  That  which  one  knows,  to  know  that  one  knows 
it,  that  which  one  knows  not,  to  know  that  one 
knows  it  not,  is  the  true  knowledge." 
'  Confucius  practised  this  last  maxim,  the  negation 
of  which  has  cost  humanity  so  many  illusions  and 
deceptions.  Concerning  matters  of  which  nothing 
is  known  he  made  no  pronouncements.  He  avoided 
any  talk  of  spirits  and  of  phenomena ;  he  spoke, 
indeed,  very  little  of  celestial  providence.  When 
a  disciple  interrogated  him  concerning  death,  his 
answer  was :  "  You  who  know  not  what  is  life,  how 
can  you  know  what  is  death  ?  "  This  abstention 
has  a  rare  and  touching  quality.  On  the  approach 
of  his  end,  when  the  wisdom  of  most  sages  weakens, 
and  when  his  disciples  asked  if  they  should  pray  to 
spirits  for  him,  he  refused,  despite  his  love  for  his 
rites  and  ceremonies,  and  replied  briefly  :  "  My  life 
is  my  prayer."  Socrates,  in  his  enigmatic  sacrifice 
of  a  cock  to  uEsculapius,  was  less  firm. 


144  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

His  explanation  of  his  rule  excels  in  its  simplicity. 
"  There  are  matters  which  a  wise  spirit  does  not 
study;  but  those  which  he  studies,  he  never  quits 
until  he  knows  them.  There  are  matters  on  which 
he  does  not  meditate  ;  but  if  he  meditates,  he  does 
not  cease  until  he  has  made  his  discovery.  There 
are  matters  concerning  which  he  asks  no  question ; 
but  if  he  questions,  he  never  rests  until  he  has 
understood.  There  are  matters  which  he  does  not 
attempt  to  differentiate  ;  but  those  which  he  differ- 
entiates he  never  leaves  without  having  seen  all  their 
differences." 

His  art  was  to  subordinate  each  thing  to  its  end. 
What  one  perpetually  admires  in  him  is  his  balance, 
his  fineness  and  his  justice.  He  detested  antithesis 
and  emphasis,  as  he  distrusted  sublimities.  The 
conduct  of  life  and  the  conduct  of  public  affairs 
were  the  domain  of  his  operation.  If  he  loved 
power  it  was  because  he  preferred  action  to  specula- 
tion. Like  a  Cicero  or  a  Leibnitz  he  was  most  a 
philosopher  when  he  had  to  console  himself  for  not 
being  a  minister.  His  programme  was  simply  to 
apply  his  mind  to  public  affairs  and  to  deal  with 
them  ceaselessly.  He  did  not  consider  that  to 
despise  preferment  was  an  absolute  testimony  of 
virtue.  "  When  the  State  is  well  governed,"  he 
said,  "  the  wise  man  will  be  ashamed  to  possess 
neither  honours  nor  riches."  One  of  his  disciples 
cited  to  him  with  admiration  a  minister  who,  when 
he  was  three  times  raised  to  power,  showed  no  joy, 
and  when  he  was  three  times  stripped  of  it  showed 
no  regret.  The  master  praised  him,  but  with 
reserve,  since  he  considered  that  indifference  towards 
the  responsibilities  of  office  is  not  perfection. 


CONFUCIUS 


'45 


A  charming  portion  of  the  temple  is  the  pavilion 
of  metal  and  of  silk,  which  is  also  the  pavilion  of 
music.  No  corner  of  this  vast  solitude  is  more 
deserted.  The  tangle  of  thorns  and  roots  is  thick 
around  it,  and  it  is  replete  with  a  thousand  scents 
and  with  the  cries  of  a  thousand  insects.  Passing 
through  the  surrounding  wilderness  of  weeds,  of 
odours  and  of  sounds,  one  comes  upon  the  long 
half-ruined  pavilion,  whose  proportions  carry  the 
universal  beauty.  Here  is  preserved — if  one  can 
apply  the  word — the  collection  of  musical  instru- 
ments. 

The  objects  in  this  collection  are  broken  and 
incomplete,  and  this  gives  to  it  the  added  charm 
of  surprising  lapses  and  unevennesses.  The  lutes 
have  lost  their  silken  cords ;  the  flutes  are  gone ;  it 
must  be  that  they  are  preserved  elsewhere.  In  the 
octaves  of  sonorous  stones  or  of  bells,  one  or  two 
notes  are  missing.  But  some  ancient  instruments 
of  great  loveliness  remain  :  a  flattened  bell  which 
emits  a  sound  of  extreme  purity,  a  resounding  stone 
cut  in  the  form  of  a  square,  the  timbre  of  which 
is  exquisite,  and  drums  of  all  sorts.  These  instru- 
ments are  used  for  the  celebrations  in  honour  of 
Confucius.  He  himself  was  passionately  fond  of 
music.  He  played  melodies  on  the  lute  and  on  the 
musical  stones,  and  whenever  he  fell  in  with  good 
choristers  he  delighted  to  sing  with  them.  In  the 
country  of  Ts'i,  it  is  said,  he  heard  songs  of  such 
beauty  that  for  three  months  he  lost  his  sense  of 
taste.  On  his  return  to  his  own  province  his  first 
care  was  to  restore  the  cult  of  music.  The  masters 


146  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

of  the  art  had  been  scattered ;  he  gathered  them 
together  and  raised  to  honour  again  the  loveliest 
of  the  old  odes ;  and  his  tender  respect  for  the 
chief  musician  who  was  blind  clings  always  to  one's 
memory. 

His  favourite  songs  were  those  of  a  soft  beauty, 
such  as  the  songs  of  the  Emperor  Chouen.  The 
warrior  songs  of  the  Emperor  Ou  seemed  to  him 
too  strident.  He  detested  the  music  of  Tcheng  as 
at  once  too  sensual  and  too  brilliant.  He  compared 
it  to  the  deep  purple  which  he  disliked  and  which 
he  regretted  to  see  substituted  for  the  rich  red  of 
his  forefathers.  There  was  no  separation  in  his 
mind  between  music  and  rites  ;  the  latter  expressed 
the  complete  and  sensible  form  of  duty ;  the  former 
expressed  the  symbol  of  duty  and  represented  its 
soul.  By  this  he  always  meant  that  this  spiritual 
quality  was  chiefly  carried  in  music  executed  in 
concert.  The  attitude  of  the  musician  in  a  concert 
resumed,  according  to  his  idea,  the  attitude  of  the 
citizen  in  his  obligation  to  society.  In  this  con- 
summation he  affirmed  that  participation  in  music 
perfected  character,  and  to  one  of  his  followers  who 
mourned  the  fact  that  his  virtue  was  not  yet 
perfect  he  replied  that  his  lute  was  not  yet  per- 
fectly tuned.  His  followers  have  used  this  tendency 
of  his  taste  to  define  his  relation  to  the  immense 
number  of  his  faithful.  They  compare  the  reson- 
ances of  his  doctrine  to  a  harmony  which  per- 
petuates itself  from  century  to  century.  Seen  in 
this  light,  he  is  neither  a  saviour  nor  a  prophet,  a 
legislator  nor  a  hero,  but  the  master  of  a  universal 
choir. 


CONFUCIUS  147 

5 

After  we  left  the  music  pavilion  we  were  invited 
to  visit  the  School  of  Rites ;  this  is  the  college  of 
those  benevolent  officials  who,  on  fete  days,  direct 
the  ceremonial.  We  passed  through  the  wild 
gardens,  the  museums  of  epigraphy,  beneath  the 
solemnly  beautiful  doors  and  the  triumphal  arches, 
and  at.  the  other  end  of  the  immense  temple  we 
came  upon  a  small  silent  court.  A  great  thuya  has 
dropped  towards  earth  there,  to  grow  horizontally, 
and  no  one  has  disturbed  it.  On  three  sides  there 
open  out  three  very  simple  chambers,  with  their 
doors  thrown  wide.  We  were  offered  a  stool  and 
a  bowl  of  tea,  and  we  found  ourselves  surrounded 
by  some  thirty  youths  and  men. 

They  are  a  hundred  in  all,  under  the  direction 
of  four  monitors,  and  they  meet  here  to  rehearse 
the  ceremonials.  Their  service  in  the  temple  is 
entirely  voluntary  and  gratuitous ;  they  receive  no 
recompense  of  any  sort  and  pay  for  their  own  food. 
One  cannot  call  them  priests ;  their  mission  is  not 
divine  and  they  are  not  part  of  a  sacred  hierarchy. 
When  an  old  monitor,  who  was  trying  to  explain 
their  functions  to  us,  alluded  to  himself  as  a  pro- 
fessor, they  interrupted  him  gaily  to  ask  if  he  was 
trying  to  pass  them  off  as  scholars.  They  com- 
pletely lack  the  ecclesiastical  tinge,  that  indescrib- 
able mixture  of  insinuation  and  reserve  which  the 
service  of  any  doctrine  so  frequently  brings.  But 
their  office  is  far  more  than  figurative.  They  are 
the  human  means  for  the  conservation  of  a  tradition 
which  is  extremely  ancient  and  extremely  minute ; 


148  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

and  one  has  the  sense  that  if  they  freely  apply 
themselves,  with  so  exact  a  devotion,  to  the  study 
of  these  ceremonies,  the  ceremonies  themselves  must 
be  beautiful. 

As  we  followed  the  rehearsal  which  they  were 
good  enough  to  give  us  of  the  principal  of  these 
rituals,  the  one  which  takes  place  each  year  in  the 
name  of  the  State,  one  realized  this  beauty  and  the 
high  qualities  of  both  its  age  and  its  simplicity. 
An  important  dignitary  is  the  chief  functionary, 
with  sixty-two  assistants.  He  makes  his  entry  to 
music ;  and  in  the  religious  silence  which  succeeds 
this  he  approaches  the  statue  before  which  the 
offerings  are  made.  At  this  moment  the  bells 
commence  their  melody.  The  choirs  and  the 
stringed  instruments  follow  them,  and  the  resonant 
stones  terminate  and  hold  the  sound  until  the 
second  strophe.  There  is  thus  executed,  in  cadence, 
a  very  slow  hymn.  It  consists  of  six  strophes  which 
correspond  to  six  periods  of  the  ceremony.  Each 
strophe  is  made  up  of  eight  verses  and  each  verse 
of  four  majestic  monosyllables,  carried  by  four  full 
notes.  The  hymn  is  not  only  sung ;  it  is  traced, 
as  it  were,  on  the  ground  by  two  groups  of  dancers 
who  hold  long  pens  and  short  flutes  and  who 
follow,  by  their  movements,  the  caligraphic  character 
of  each  syllable  as  it  is  sung,  and  thus  embellish  the 
spiritual  idea. 

One  does  not  feel  that  this  ceremony  corresponds 
to  an  effusion  of  soul.  It  rather  expresses,  by  its 
simultaneous  appeal  to  the  eye  and  the  ear,  the 
rite  which  is  being  fulfilled  and  the  sentiment 
which  it  should  awaken.  The  first  offering  is  that 
of  wine  and  of  fruits,  the  hymn  for  which  flows 
somewhat  as  follows : 


CONFUCIUS  149 

My  spirit  rests  in  the  clarity  of  virtue. 
Jade  breaks  the  long  echoes  of  metal. 
Among  the  living  none  could  approach  him. 
His  word  has  swept  over  the  stars. 
Here  are  the  vases  aged  a  thousand  years. 
Each  year,  on  the  sacred  days, 
The  limpid  wine  flows  into  them, 
Its  perfume  rises  to  the  sky. 

This  ritual  and  this  cult  evoke  in  the  French 
mind  a  strange  memory  of  those  ceremonies  of  the 
Revolution  which  were  prescribed  by  David,  and 
of  which  Marie-Joseph  Chenier  was  the  poet  and 
Michelet  the  musician.  Seen  from  the  temple  of 
Confucius,  there  is  a  thread  of  logic  in  them. 
What  they  lacked  was  a  past  of  a  thousand  years. 
The  cult  of  which  Auguste  Gomte  dreamed  has 
been  dreamed  in  China,  and  when  we  honour 
Michelet  or  Rousseau  at  the  Pantheon,  we  are  to 
some  extent  participating  in  one  of  those  feasts  of 
reason  which  are  so  essentially  Confucian.  In  the 
West  the  more  laic  rites  are  still  in  demand,  and 
the  worship  of  reason  and  of  humanity  is  still 
unformed.  It  exists,  however,  and — since  any 
assemblage  of  men  turns  to  ritual  and  ceremonial — 
one  can  imagine  that,  if  religions  weaken,  it  will 
grow  and  that  in  a  few  centuries  the  celebrations 
at  the  Pantheon  might  have  their  definite  form, 
each  part  of  which  would  testify  to  a  sensibility 
and  a  tradition  and  to  collective  emotions. 

Since  the  dawn  of  history  China  has  trained 
herself  to  honour  reason.  We  may  teach  her  the 
application  of  it,  as  we  teach  her  a  hundred  thousand 
inventions  and  a  thousand  forms  of  science.  What 
we  can  learn  from  her  is  a  lesson  of  respect.  She 
can  prove  to  us  that  this  cult  is  neither  difficult 


150  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

nor  of  precarious  tenure,  and  that  no  faith  which 
deals  entirely  with  the  supernatural  has  yet  equalled 
it  in  its  extension  or  in  its  longevity. 


The  temple  of  Yen-tseu  is  also  a  palace,  with 
special  dwellings  for  the  disciple  and  for  the  various 
members  of  his  family,  with  verdant  parks  and  walls 
of  vermilion,  with  lacquered  roofs  and  blue  doors, 
and  a  whole  aligned  army  of  thuyas.  But  the 
surroundings  of  the  follower  have  a  more  intimate 
air  than  the  surroundings  of  the  Sage. 

It  was  Yen  whom  Confucius  most  loved  and  of 
whom  he  said  :  "  Yen  hears  me  in  silence  through- 
out the  day,  as  if  he  had  no  mind  to  object  or  to 
question.  But  when  he  has  gone  from  me  I  see 
all  my  teaching  sanctified  in  his  conduct  "  ;  and  it 
was  Yen  who  wrote :  "  The  more  I  study  the 
doctrine  of  the  master,  the  higher  I  find  it.  I  see 
it  before  me,  and  suddenly  it  is  behind  me.  If  I 
wish  to  cease  my  progress  in  it,  I  am  unable  to ; 
and  after  I  have  spent  all  my  strength,  there  is 
always  something  new  in  front  of  me,  like  an 
inaccessible  mountain." 

When  Yen  died,  in  his  thirty-second  year,  the 
grief  of  Confucius  was  so  extreme  that  he  said  that 
heaven  had  taken  his  life  and  annihilated  him.  The 
disciple  had  come  of  a  very  poor  family,  and, 
faithful  to  his  love  of  the  fitting,  Confucius  wished 
for  him  a  simple  funeral  such  as  he  had  had  for 
his  own  son.  The  other  followers  disobeyed  and 
he  was  interred  with  great  splendour.  Their  love 
for  him  became  part  of  their  faith,  and  when  the 
Sage  spoke  of  him  it  was  with  that  depth  of  feeling, 


CONFUCIUS  151 

at  once  passionate  and  extravagant,  which  only  the 
heart  inspires. 

To  look  at  the  gentle  young  face  of  the  young 
disciple  brings  one  nearer  to  his  master  and  lends 
an  intimacy  to  the  respect  he  evokes.  Two  qualities 
are  eminent  in  Confucius — his  intellectual  method 
and  his  social  conception ;  but  there  is  a  third,  the 
freshness  of  his  sensibility.  It  is  recorded  that  when 
he  found  himself  eating  beside  a  man  who  was 
dejected  at  the  loss  of  a  near  relative,  the  infection 
of  grief  so  overcame  him  that  he  himself  could 
scarcely  eat ;  and  when  he  went  to  weep  for  one 
of  his  own  dead,  his  sorrow  prevented  him  from 
singing  throughout  the  entire  day. 

This  spontaneity  and  this  sincerity  of  feeling 
explain  what  he  has  said  concerning  ritual.  In  his 
view,  it  was  not  an  insignificant  gesture  or  a  lifeless 
form.  He  penetrated  the  sense  of  ceremonial  and 
infused  it  with  a  soul.  Mourning  was  to  him  the 
sensible  form  of  bereavement.  He  exemplified  in 
himself  the  profound  grief  of  old  races — a  profundity 
which  too  often  escapes  us  in  our  day.  His  rites 
were  the  beautiful  vessels  in  which  he  enclosed,  for 
preservation  and  transmission,  that  most  subtle  and 
precious  of  essences — sentiment.  Those  ancient 
usages  which  he  wished  to  retain  were  not  such  as 
claimed  the  adherence  of  a  temporary  fashion,  but 
those  which  preserved  and  codified  a  deep  feel- 
ing, like  saluting  at  the  foot  of  a  stairway,  rising 
before  the  blind  and  before  persons  in  sorrow,  and 
changing  nothing  in  the  house  of  one's  dead  parents 
for  the  immediate  years  after  their  death.  In  a 
case  where  there  was  a  choice  in  the  matter  of 
behaviour,  a  sureness  of  instinct  always  indicated 
to  him  the  more  noble  and  the  more  exquisite. 


152  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

Confucius  would  never  hear  of  the  fact  that 
virtue  was  in  itself  enough  without  politeness.  He 
viewed  them  as  inseparable ;  he  saw  courtesies  as 
coming  from  the  heart,  and  that  when  they  were 
practised  with  all  the  heart  a  moral  elevation 
ensued. 

His  own  instinct  was  distinctly  sociable.  There 
was  always  a  light  raillery  in  his  opinion  of  those 
fierce  sages  who,  to  escape  the  spectacle  of  human 
injustice,  fled  to  the  mountains  and  the  deserts  and 
sought  the  society  of  animals.  For  his  part,  he 
regarded  his  fellows  with  np  such  rigour  and  he 
could  imagine  no  disillusion  which  would  tempt 
him  to  renounce  the  charm  of  human  intercourse. 
Once  when  his  courage  was  at  a  low  ebb  he 
exclaimed  :  "  If  I  fled  to  a  raft  in  the  midst  of 
the  sea,  who  would  follow  me  ?  Yen,  I  suppose." 
And  when  he  saw  Yen's  joy  at  this  comment  he 
added  charmingly  :  "  Yen  is  more  courageous  than 
I,  but  he  needs  a  little  cleverness." 

He  had  in  the  largest  sense  that  greatest  quality, 
humanity.  Long  before  the  Stoics  he  taught  charity 
to  one's  kind,  and  far  in  advance  of  the  Christians 
he  humanized  all  its  elements.  It  was  he  who  first 
said  :  "  Do  as  you  would  be  done  by ;  do  unto 
others  as  you  would  that  they  should  do  unto  you ; 
love  thy  neighbour  as  thyself."  And  the  immor- 
tality of  these  words  assures  him,  in  the  world  at 
large,  the  rank  which  China  has  given  him. 

7 

We  spent  our  last  morning  in  a  visit  to  the  tomb 
of  Confucius. 

In  formef  days  it  stood  at  the  gates  of  the  city ; 


CONFUCIUS  153 

but  K'iu-feou  has  expanded  disproportionately  in 
another  direction,  and  now  the  lengthy  walk  of  old 
trees  which  leads  one  to  it  passes  out  of  the  gates 
and  through  monotonous  fields.  The  sudden  appa- 
rition, across  the  path,  of  a  triumphal  arch  interrupts 
one's  reverie.  The  trees  grow  more  and  more 
closely  until  they  are  contracted  between  two  walls 
of  vermilion  ;  a  little  farther  and  one  passes  through 
a  door  into  the  "  forest." 

It  is  a  strange  spot,  overrun  by  the  wildest 
nature,  so  tangled  and  so  isolated  that  it  would 
seem  part  of  the  primeval  world  if  the  regularity 
of  the  cypresses  did  not  give  warning  that  it  was 
the  approach  to  a  tomb.  A  stream  flows  amongst 
the  bushes ;  there  is  no  monument  visible,  but 
only  an  altar  for  the  ritual  offerings.  The  wide 
walk  is  bordered  with  sculptured  stones  which  date 
from  the  second  century  of  our  era.  First  there 
are  two  octagonal  columns,  then  two  pairs  of 
fantastic  animals,  and  finally  the  statues  of  two 
functionaries,  one  of  the  military  class,  carrying  his 
long  sabre,  the  other  of  the  civilian,  with  his  ivory 
tablets  ready  to  note  the  orders  of  the  prince. 
Beyond  the  altar  the  walk  continues ;  it  passes  on 
the  left  the  tomb  of  the  grandson  of  Confucius, 
Tseu-sen,  the  second  of  the  Associates  and  the 
author  of  one  of  the  four  Confucian  books.  There 
is  another  stone  to  the  right,  commemorating  the 
son  of  Confucius.  The  path  turns,  and  a  little 
farther,  in  front  of  a  green  mound,  in  the  completest 
solitude,  stands  a  final  stela. 

The  three  tiny  vessels  of  bronze  placed  before  it 
are  the  sole  marks  of  its  sanctity;  but  one  has  the 
sense  that  the  grandeur  of  space  and  silence  is 
alone  equal  to  the  grandeur  of  this  dead.  The 


154  JAPANESE  IMPRESSIONS 

forest  about  exhales  its  rumours  and  its  odours,  and 
the  cypresses  stand  with  the  languor  of  grief. 
Scattered  amongst  the  undergrowth  are  little  seats 
which  commemorate  the  fact  that  Emperors  have 
come  here  to  meditate. 

One's  impression,  as  one  confronts  the  spot,  has 
all  the  quality  of  a  vision.  The  universality  of  this 
teaching  raises  the  wonder,  in  one's  mind,  whether 
the  future  may  not  see  a  universal  temple  ;  whether, 
in  a  few  centuries — and  in  this  scale  of  measurement 
what  do  centuries  count  ? — the  three  great  conti- 
nents may  not  unite  to  raise  an  edifice  twice  as 
vast  as  the  one  we  have  just  left,  and  in  which  the 
Greek  perfection  shall  be  combined  with  the  Chinese 
amplitude — a  building  as  final  in  its  beauty  as  the 
Parthenon  and  as  majestic  in  its  spaces  as  the  plan 
of  Peking. 

Confucius  would  there  be  venerated  side  by  side 
with  that  other  sage  who,  on  the  other  side  of  the 
world  and  at  a  date  almost  as  early  as  his  own, 
taught  the  subtle  use  of  reason ;  he  and  Socrates, 
the  ceremonious  Chinese  and  the  ironic  Greek, 
would  be  regarded  as  the  founders  of  this  moral 
science,  as  those  first  to  recognize  the  warmth  of 
charity  and  the  clear  flame  of  reason,  and  to  fulfil 
their  part  as  spiritual  fathers  of  the  State. 

With  these  two  would  be  honoured  their  asso- 
ciates in  thought.  Confucius  would  have  his  four 
companions,  his  twelve  philosophers  and  his  seventy- 
two  disciples ;  Socrates  would  have  beside  him 
memorials  to  Plato,  Xenophon,  Aristotle  and 
Epicurus.  It  would  be  difficult  to  extend  to  the 
West  the  list  of  those  whose  accomplishment  was 
to  be  commemorated,  since  there  reason  has  been 
too  long  neglected  ;  but  Descartes  would  be  placed 


CONFUCIUS  155 

beside  Seneca,  Spinoza  would  follow  them,  and 
there  would  be  noted  Locke,  Montesquieu,  Rousseau, 
Kant,  Goethe  and  Auguste  Comte. 

To  the  Orient  and  to  the  Occident,  the  uniting 
of  these  names  would  certify  the  universality  of 
reason ;  and,  whether  this  monument  existed  in 
actuality  or  in  the  cult  of  a  common  veneration,  it 
would  mean  a  recognition  of  our  common  thought, 
of  its  perpetual  struggle  towards  clarity  and  of  the 
peace  of  its  ultimate  achievement. 

Confucius  has  said  that  the  way  to  honour  the 
dead  was  to  keep  them  present  in  one's  mind.  His 
own  presence  is  so  perpetuated  that  it  conquers 
those  who  come  here  as  curious  travellers  and  lays 
upon  them  the  vivid  touch  of  his  philosophy.  The 
quiet  of  good  judgment  has  never  before  appeared 
so  exquisite  and  so  intimate.  Before  this  tomb  the 
future  of  the  more  mystic  religions  seems  less  assured. 
What  they  teach  is  also  taught  here,  and  taught 
both  more  efficaciously  and  simply.  It  is  in  this 
age-long  silence  that  one  learns  something  of  the 
necessity  to  free  one's  mind  from  the  chimerical, 
to  maintain  in  the  face  of  the  unknown  a  dis- 
passionate and  fearless  attitude,  and  to  live  in  the 
society  of  one's  fellow-men  with  an  incorruptible 
measure  and  harmony. 


THE    END 


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